Phone pirates in seek and steal mission

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by dontoe, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. dontoe

    dontoe 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

    May 7, 2004
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    Hickory, N.C.
    Phone pirates in seek and steal mission

    MOBILE phone technology is being used by thieves to seek out and steal laptops locked in cars in Cambridgeshire.

    Up-to-date mobiles often have Bluetooth technology, which allows other compatible devices, including laptops, to link up and exchange information, and log on to the internet.

    Technology pitfall: A bluetooth mobile

    But thieves in Cambridge have cottoned on to an alternative use for the function, using it as a scanner which will let them know if another Bluetooth device is locked in a car boot.

    Det Sgt Al Funge, from Cambridge's crime investigation unit, said: "There have been a number of instances of this new technology being used to identify cars which have valuable electronics, including laptops, inside.

    "The thieves are taking advantage of a relatively new technology, and people need to be aware that this is going on.

    "We would urge people not to leave laptops, or anything of value, in their cars, and always de-activate these wireless connections when you're not using a laptop - otherwise you're making life easy for the thieves."

    Last month a spate of thefts from cars were put down to thieves using their phones to find laptops after three laptops were stolen from cars parked in neighbouring bays at the Holiday Inn, in Cambridge Road, Impington.

    Police in Royston have mirrored the warning, after picking up on new crime trends in the area.

    Superintendent Adrian Walter said: "The car industry has done a lot of work in recent years to make vehicles theft proof, including building in stereos and we're glad to say the majority of people seem to be taking our advice and keeping valuables out of sight.

    "However, we must not be complacent and by following simple crime prevention methods we can all help to keep vehicle crime down in the area."

    The call for caution follows the latest in a string of thefts from cars in Royston.

    At about 8.20am last Wednesday, a Sony TR 1MP laptop was taken from an Audi A6 estate parked in Tesco car park off old North Road.

    Anyone with any information can call police on (01992) 533002 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


    Also in a related article.........................

    Billboards beam adverts to passing cellphones
    • 17:39 22 August 2005
    • news service
    • Duncan Graham-Rowe
    Ignoring adverts is about to get a lot tougher with the development of billboards and advertising posters that use Bluetooth to beam video ads direct to passing cellphones.

    As people walk past the posters they receive a message on their phone asking them if they wish to accept the advert. If they do, they can receive movies, animations, music or still images further promoting the advertised product.

    “It's all about delivering high quality content, tailored for mobile usage,” says Alasdair Scott, co-founder and chief creative officer of London-based Filter UK, who created the system, called BlueCasting.

    Working with advertising company Maiden Group, also in London, trials of the system were recently held at six London railway stations. Poster locations for rock band Coldplay’s new album offered to beam further promotional material, including song clips from the album, to the phones of passers-by. Take a look at the kind of content used, here (QuickTime format).

    The posters detected 87,000 Bluetooth phones over a two week period, of which about 17% were willing to download the clip, says Scott.

    Proximity-based broadcasting

    The system works by having a large directional Bluetooth transmitter behind the billboard that searches the region up to 100 metres in front of the advert for any phones with their Bluetooth function turned on.

    This way you can make sure that only people who can see the billboard are offered the additional promotion, says Simon O’Regan, Filter UK’s Technical Officer. “It’s inherently proximity-based broadcasting,” he says.

    Furthermore, there is no risk of downloading viruses or other malware to the phone, says O’Regan: “We don’t send applications or executable code.” The system uses the phone’s native download interface so they should be able to see the kind of file they are downloading before accepting it, he adds.

    Ollie Whitehouse, a Bluetooth computer security expert at Symantec, in Dublin, Ireland agrees: “On the whole there should be no risk to users at all.”

    But that does not mean that all non-executable files are safe, notes Whitehouse. Files formatted to look like jpeg picture files have been created in the past that exploit inherent vulnerabilities in particular hardware, causing it to crash, he says.

    Active consumption

    A bigger question in all likelihood is how the companies will persuade users to accept the adverts once the novelty has worn off. “If we can provide exclusive or valuable content to consumers, they'll actively want to consume it,” says Scott. Unlike spam, these promotions will have something to offer, he claims, such as content or vouchers.

    Elsewhere, other software companies, such as ScanBuy in New York and Semacode in Ontario, have been experimenting with making posters interactive by having 3D barcodes printed on them.

    Their software allows a phone camera to scan the code and launch the phone’s browser at a particular e-commerce site – to buy concert tickets, for example. But with BlueCasting, downloading is a lot faster and, importantly, free, because it uses the Bluetooth connection and not the cellphone network.

    If BlueCasting still sounds too intrusive, there is always one solution, says Whitehouse: “Just make sure your Bluetooth device is set so that it’s not discoverable to other devices.”
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2005

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