The Perils of Probe Requests

  1. Each device openly broadcasts incredibly identifiable network name history (names like “Jenny’s iPhone”, “UChicago”, “my favorite coffee shop”, etc…).
  2. Included in those messages is a unique fingerprint that can be collected and used to track you in public.
  3. Collecting these probe requests is easy from a consumer laptop.
Sniffing probe requests (time stamp, signal strength, MAC address, SSID)
WiGLE wardriving data from Chicago, IL, USA
WiGLE data showing the same location with and without geo-tagged wireless networks overlayed

ProbeKit and Beyond

ProbeKit in the wild
ProbeKit map view
Probekit habitat view



Certificate of De-identification

Capturing Probe Requests

# clone the repository
git clone
cd sniff-probes
# use iwconfig to list your wireless device names
# sniff probes, replacing wlan0 with your device name
00:00:19 -88dBm 00:0a:e2:1f:28:ab "cvteststation01"
00:00:19 -89dBm 00:0a:e2:1f:28:ab "cvteststation01"
00:00:22 -85dBm 5c:aa:fd:20:23:41 "Sonos_pZkIex0zatRvhdJTAifLzmatdh"
00:00:42 -86dBm f4:f5:d8:28:bc:26 "NETGEAR85-5G"
00:00:46 -89dBm f4:f5:d8:28:bc:26 "NETGEAR85-5G"
00:00:48 -84dBm f4:f5:d8:06:19:40 "Pamplona Running Club"
00:01:00 -92dBm 54:60:09:40:56:32 "seawhale"
00:01:13 -87dBm 38:63:bb:d1:6a:b7 "offline"
00:01:25 -83dBm 5c:aa:fd:20:23:41 "Sonos_pZkIex0zatRvhdJTAifLzmatdh"




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Brannon Dorsey

Brannon Dorsey

Artist | Programmer | Researcher

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