Bringing 'cyber' skills into surveillance


Full Registered User
Hi all,
Question for the surveillances specialists out there; does anyone use wi-fi to identify locations a subject has been linked to? Could be useful in a loss situation during mobile surveillance.

When someone leaves their wi-fi on, their device (likely to be a phone in this case) will overtly broadcast previous hotspots (aka SSID's or access points) it has connected to. Collecting that information over the air is not illegal. If you can capture that information, you can then search the names of the hotspots using open source websites and identify potential linked locations.

If you haven't visited the site already, I encourage you to try and create an account - browse the map and check out the millions if hotspots mapped by the public.

The tactic might already be commonly used in the private world, but thought I'd ask.

That said, if you are running surveillance against a subject make sure you don't leave your own wi-fi on!


Full Registered User
I wouldn't say many have although this has been known about for some time. Wifi-enabled devices by default throw their previously connected AP names out into the æther when turned on to see what is out there, which can be exploited like you say to track individuals. Alot of people are idiots and leave it on the entire time, which like bluetooth, drains batteries super quickly. Shopping centres have been using bluetooth to track customers for years and it wouldn't surprise me if they were using the same idea with wifi too.

I recall watching a video where it was implemented on a Raspberry Pi and attached to a drone, which would then discreetly get peoples info when they were in parks on whatever, also suggesting it could be put in lamp posts. Another thing to note regarding tracking is that some routers default SSID's have unique names such as Sky12345 and VM-09876543 or even Starbucks Wembley, you could easily build a picture not just of where someone has been but also potentially where they live too!

When I find that video I'll be sure to post it here.

EDIT: Collecting this info is a grey area. To say it's not illegal isn't very sensible.
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