iPod Touch Would Make Great Wi-Fi Sniffer

By Richard Menta 9/24/07

The ability of Apple's best products to make the average consumer's life easier is that company's greatest asset as well as its greatest competitive advantage. So when Apple added Wi-Fi ability to the iPod touch and to the iPhone one of its goals was to make wireless connectivity easy and convenient. The iPod touch does exactly that and some.

While testing out the iPod touch for review (and complaining that I always have to remember it is not iPod Touch with a capital "T", but iPod touch with a small "t" or risk being uncool, I mean kewl...oh jeez) I came to a bit of an epiphany about its Wi-Fi conveniences. It was damn easy. So much so that it makes life easier for people who are more than just tune-toting pedestrians. The iPod touch makes for an ideal tool for information security professionals as well as the crackers and hackers who are looking for a little wireless access.

Over the weekend I was Highland Park, NJ for a few errands and decided it would be a good time to stop by the local coffee shop and test out the WiFi capabilities of the iPod Touch. I wanted to see how much effort it took to tap into and hold a wireless signal.

Apple iPod Touch

Inside of PJ's coffee house I opened the main menu of the iPod touch and tapped on the Settings icon to open that sub-menu. At the very top of the Setting menu was the on for Wi-Fi setting with the words Not Connected to the side of it. Tap on the Wi-Fi icon and it opens the Wi-Fi networks control panel, which immediately began to poll the airwaves for various signals. Not only did PJ's Wi-Fi signal appear, but so did a few other signals, which bled into the building. I found this interesting and thought I would take the iPod touch outside and see what other signals I could capture.

Once outside I re-entered the Wi-Fi control panel and as the video above shows up came thirteen Wi-Fi signals. Some of the signals were encrypted to prevent unauthorized access (as shown by a padlock icon to the side of the listing), but others were not. Those without encryption included an eyeglass business across the street as well as what looked like several home wireless nodes.

It was pretty obvious. Because the iPod touch runs Mac OS X it would a first class Wi-Fi sniffer. First you need to write an application that would allow this portable to sniff packets, something that I suspect hakers will get to soon enough. At minimum a BitTorrent for iPod would allow folk to file share off of other people's IP addresses. Sure, Apple has locked down the ability to write apps for the device, but what is a hacker if they can't crack an iPod too? As a tool it is easy to use, very convenient to carry, and a lot less conspicuous than a war-driver with a laptop and a Pringles can.

But hackers and crackers are not the only ones who can appreciate the iPod touch. It actually makes a wonderful tool for information security professionals - the folks charged with keeping the aforementioned hackers and crackers at bay - to locate rogue wireless access points and misconfigured Wi-Fi nodes.

How easy it will be for the corporate information security officer to justify his purchase requisition for that iPod as a useful tool is another matter.

Other MP3 stories:
iPod Touch Unbox Improved - Sort of

Apple iPod Touch

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