Finding your lost laptop using WIFI/Hotspot sounds like an odd way of tracking your laptop, but bear with me as I explain.
Remember the challenge we had where we found the location of your laptop but it happens to be held hostage in a multi-storey building? This is where WiFi tracking comes in and saves the day for you!
If you have already identified where the location of your stolen laptop is, then this is the next step to the process of narrowing down the location. If you haven’t already gotten a location fix of your laptop then you may want to read the blog on how to how to track your laptop with GPS/GPRS first before continuing.
Now before we talk about the actual tracking let us take a step back and understand a bit about Wi-Fi and how you use it. We will then work with this intel running a probability match to pinpoint the exact location of your laptop.
• You have probably given your WiFi SSID a unique name. A WiFi SSID (Service Set Identifier) is the unique name you give your network connection on a router so that it is easy to identify and connect to it.
Most people also give their WiFi SSID a name that is normally quite easy to associate with such as: “Adams WiFi” (the guy who owns it is probably called Adam) or if it’s a business “Java” or “Starbucks” for cafeteria with the same names. Hotels will also normally name their WiFi the name of the Hotel and maybe add “guest” WiFi at the end.
So in essence if you were at Starbucks and you check the WiFi available around you, you will likely see “Starbuck’s WiFi” on your laptop or phone on the WiFi connection icon (probability is at least 9 out 10 times). Of course you may have a neighbor who decides to call their home WiFi SSID “Starbucks”(the exceptional weirdo), otherwise if you ever see that WiFi name then you will know you are either next to or in an actual Starbucks store.
• WiFi signal also gets weaker or stronger depending on how far you are from the router transmitting it. For example the further you walk away from a Starbucks store the weaker the WiFi signal gets(normally denoted by lower “bars” on the WiFi icon). The vice versa is true.
Armed with these two unique pieces of intel, we can resume tracking.
You have no idea what floor your laptop is on but you are sure this is spot, maybe with a margin of error of about 5 meters more or less. You will use wiFi to pinpoint it by sending the text command “Scan WiFi” to your matrix Blackbox. An SSID scan will be initialized, compiled and replied back to you in a text report. The text report will include:
1. All the WiFi SSID around your laptop (even if the laptop is off)
2. The mac address of the routers transmitting the WiFis around your laptop
3. The type of encryption the WiFi SSID have eg WPA, WPA2, WEP etc
4. The strength of the WiFi signals. (The strength is based out of 10.ie 1 is weak 10 is super strong)
5. The channel the WiFi are being broadcasted on.
Now you wonder, what to do with all this intel? Well let’s look at our multi-storey building scenario again and make a few common sense assumptions and strategies.
Supposing your laptop is on the third floor of the building which happens to be leased to a Starbucks. You run the scan and the results indicate several WiFi are around where your laptop is. You carefully note that the strongest signal is “Starbucks” which probably has a signal strength of a 7 out of 10. You disregard all the other WiFi SSID’s and focus on it as it is the strongest. You Proceed to casually ask around (probably a guard there) where starbucks is on the building and you are adviced its on the third floor. You casually walk in and find the Guy who has your laptop and casually ask for it back nicely (with a fist as backup or law enforcement in case he attempts to be threatening or not)….
Supposing your laptop is in a multi storey building (or apartment) that happens to have so many people living there. You run a scan and the results indicate several WiFis are around where your laptop is. Again you carefully note and isolate the strongest signal is called “Adam’s WiFi” and it happens to be a 8 out of 10. Note if the WiFi strength is greater than a 5 its most certainly is within the same room as the router. You casually ask the around if “an Adam” lives there or check the building apartment tags and floor number that is usually on the ground floor and note which floor and apartment is owned by “Adam” If its unlisted and nobody seems to be of help there, you take out your smartphone turn on the wifi and climb floor by floor as you look for the WiFi “Adam’s WiFi” until you reach a point where the bar strength for “Adam’s WiFi” is at its strongest (most likely outside his door) You Give a gentle knock and....you know what to do…
By now you realize a good detective always has a backup plan for every possible scenario. To be clear the Matrix Blackbox has contingencies for almost all possible scenarios (like Batman). Here is contingency plan C. Plan C makes the assumption of, what if where your laptop is there is no WiFi or they are too weak(under 5/10) or they are hidden SSID’s ? You run a scan and you get a 404 saying “No WiFi around where your laptop is” and you wonder what to do.Well, fret not! The Matrix Blackbox has its own built in router. Yes its badass like that! So what you need to do is to send a distress text to tell it to create a hotspot. The text command to send is “Hotspot on” and magically just like that it will create a WiFi SSID and respond with the created hotspot’s name and password. The hotspot’s SSID is normal a very normal unsuspicious name which can be anything ranging to “polar bear wifi” or something bizzar as “Pineapple Pizza”. Again whip out your smartphone and start looking for your Matrix Blackbox’s hotspot moving from floor to floor until you are outside the door where the signal is strongest. I don’t need to tell you and your people how to conduct the “knock” do I?
Before kicking the door wide open with your law enforcement buddies (or your boy squad) confirmation may be needed before breaking and entering or rather “Knocking”. The question is how do I really know I am outside the door of the guy holding my laptop hostage? Well in the next blog we shall answer this in Plan “Target Confirmed”