Oct 6, 2010
I was tipped off about this interesting little ‘utility’ today.
Now, I don’t know much about the author (other than being able to see something of his social graph) and anything you do, or any information you provide, via that link is at your own risk.
But two things made me sit up and take notice. One being that it pinpointed my current position exactly, working on a laptop, via Wi-Fi, in my kitchen. No IP address, GPS or mobile mast triangulation involved. Simply by (taking Samy’s explanation at face value) accessing my router and looking up its address on a database of routers and their physical locations. My router is password-protected, in case you were wondering. Secondly, because a number of people I rate as being well informed about this sort of identification issue also seemed surprised by its capability.
And what, I hear you cry, is that database of routers and where they are? I don’t know, but one suggestion has come in from @exmosis who offers these suggestions on how this positioning function works. Read past the bit on mobile phones – it’s the bit at the end that might be relevant. Is this Skyhook outfit something to do with it? Have they been driving round East Surrey sniffing for router locations and addresses? Seems hard to comprehend that something could have happened on this scale without a word of it coming to my attention until now.
Regardless of whatever method is being used, the implication is clear. A malevolent site could covertly hold such code: one click, and your precise location could be transmitted without you knowing.
It rather makes location self-disclosure via Foursquare, Gowalla, Places etc. pale into insignificance, in my book.