Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Google hacking and Cantennas

I was having a late night Skype conference where we were discussing some of the finer points of Google hacking ... basically, the using of search engines to find systems vulnerabilities.

Generally inquisitive people can use carefully crafted searches to find things like open ports, overly revealing error messages or even (smokin' ...) password files on a target organization's computer systems.

Blame the popularity of the somewhat imprecise phrase "Google hacking" on Johnny Long and the virtual swap meet where members exchange and rate intricately written Google searches.

We all know the commonly agreed-upon protocol called a "robots.txt" file. This file, which is placed in the root directory of a website, contains instructions about files or folders that should not be indexed by search engines ... check out the White House's file at just for fun.

Many companies that run search engines heed the instructions in this file but others look at this as a roadmap to success.

Then technology takes from the garbage can and delivers! Cantennas - I thought that these things died a slow death but now an increasing number of users in the developing nations where the cost for a connection is high enough to pay for first class schools for the average dictator.

Nothing new but as wireless carriers spend billions for the hardware and software needed for modern mobile networks all you need is a juice can and some legos to connect to a free 802.11b network.

Homebrew 802.11 devices will not outperform most commercial products.

You can forget about a potato chip container or soup can follow today's move toward Non Line-of-Sight wireless connections - one tree branch and you're toast.

So, what draws people to tinker with their Airport AP or WLAN card?

The same drive for freedom that powered people like homebrew computer fan Steve Wozniak is at the heart of the free wireless movement today.

Juice up your Tin Cantenna with a surplus satellite dish and here's a spreadsheet for optimum can size calculation (I kid you not!)

Another case of the doc's 'technology giveth and technology taketh away'.


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