Hunting down fictional people using WiGLE
So I’m a fan of terrible movies and recently I’ve been working my way through a huge list of hacker films both good and bad (but mostly bad). Somewhere on this list is an exceedingly awful film called “Unfriended: Dark Web”. I decided to pull up a trailer for the film to get… well hyped isn’t really the right word because I really truly despise this film. I mean this film is pure fear mongering garbage. We’re talking “Dark Dungeons” level crazy here. It’s every stock photo image of a hooded hacker plus every Dark Web creepypasta rolled into one insanity fueled film. At the same time I can’t resist the allure of how absolutely god awful this film is. So… hyped but not to enjoy the film but rather to be angry at it. I have no idea if that makes any sense to anyone but myself but it’s besides the point anyways. The point is that I decided to watch a trailer to a bad hacking film when something caught my eye. For a brief moment on screen you can see a list of nearby networks. And looking at them… they aren’t joke names. They look like real networks. The question is… from where?
So this sort of scratches at my brain for a few minutes after I rewatched the trailer. Surely they didn’t just pull up a real list of nearby networks… right? Well I can safely say after doing some research: Yes they absolutely did. And we can prove this, as well as find where they did it with the help of some OSINT.
“So how do you find someone’s location using nothing but nearby SSIDs” you might ask. The answer is WiGLE. WiGLE if you don’t know (but I’m guessing you do given how popular it is) is a wardriving database. People drive around collecting data on WiFi and correlate it with location data that they’re capturing at the same time. When put together you can get an idea of what WiFi is where. It’s basically SIGINT as a hobby. So let’s start with the closest AP: “AB Network”. I remove the search range because I don’t know where I’m supposed to be looking.
This pulls up way to much info. There’s no way I’m gonna find the right location with this. “AB Network” is just far to common an SSID. So I got thinking “What’s the most uncommon SSID on this list. That’s when “AirCondition-WIFI” caught my eye. Not only is IOT air conditioning uncommon but most likely not announce itself as such so obviously. Again we do a world wide search for our SSID.
Bingo. Two results both in the same location. Now we have a general area: somewhere in West Hollywood. Let’s pull up a few more of those SSIDs in this area.
Yep they’re all here. So because a lot of these SSIDs are near two coffee shops I’m assuming that they just had a temp sit down take them from there so they could get some believable SSIDs. However not all the SSIDs are from around those coffee shops so it’s also possible that they had said temp ride around and do some basic wardriving which is pretty funny to think about considering how much this film fear mongers hacking. But just as a thought exercise I thought to track down where this character might actually live if he were a real person. The other SSID’s are all mostly along a street that doesn’t seem to have any apartments. So we go back an SSID close to the main character “AB Network”. There are two sightings of an “AB Network” in West Hollywood. WiGLE shows them as having been detected in a parking lot for a mall. And across that parking lot is… an apartment complex.
So lesson learned: Using WiGLE it’s possible to hunt down someone’s location using nothing but what SSIDs are nearby (even if that person isn’t real). Even as an OSINT noob I was able to find the networks shown in the film and correlate them to real life locations in about 20 minutes. So keep that in mind the next time you pull up your network settings in front of someone else. It was quite fun to step into the shoes of the hackers in the film trying to find the location of this stolen laptop using the information I was given and has really sparked my interest in learning more about OSINT so I imagine I’ll be doing more stuff like this in the future.