Scanning for WiFI like inSSIDer on iOS & Macbook Pro & iMac

What is the best way, nowadays, to scan for wireless frequencies given an entirely Apple household of iPhones, iPads, Macbook Pros, and an iMac?

An Apple-only friend (who lives in the boonies) called just now from another state with Comcast Internet problems at home.

They're on the $56.95 25Mbps "Performance Internet" plan which advertises

25 Mbps down & 5 Mbps up. They own their own Motorola Docsys 3.0 modem from Costco.

They have iPads, iPhones, Macbook Pros, and an iMac. (Also they have Vonage.)

With an iMac wired to the modem, they're getting 29 down and 6 up (sometimes 1 up) at around 38ms ping times, but at the various wireless devices they're only getting half that.

They haven't told me what they get wired to the router (a WRT54G, which only has channels 1 through 11) but I told them to scan for WiFi signals (to see if they are clashing with their neighbors).

They don't know how.

They are on iOS with iPhones and iPads & they have a couple of MacBook Pros which apparently don't have an Ethernet port (nor do they have the adapter) but they do have an iMac which does have an Ethernet port.

So they're running the *wired* tests using the iMac but I'm trying to get them to run wireless tests and they're not technical people.

My only question is how do I get them to run a test of the WiFi frequencies in use where they are.

Googling, I found this which explains for them how to run a WiFi scan on the iPads and iPhones that they own:

- TIP: Choosing the best WiFi channel using iPad


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But looking for how to run the same test on the iMac or MacBook Pros, I'm not sure because I don't know what operating system they're on.

For example, here is information for OSX but I don't know how good it is as I have no Apple computers:

- Any free good software wireless analyzers, like Windows' Netstumbler and inSSIDer, for Mac OS X 10.8.3?


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What is the best way, nowadays, for this older couple to scan for wireless frequencies given an entirely Apple household of iPhones, iPads, Macbook Pros, and an iMac?

Reply to
Horace Algier
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Thank you for suggesting a Mac app since I have no way of testing them but the user has an old iMac (which they had to charge up so I doubt they use it all that often - but it had an Ethernet port) and two Macbook Pros (which didn't have RJ45 ports).

I will suggest *that* freeware app for them.

- NetSpot: WiFi survey & wireless scanner, By Etwok LLC

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The heatmap in the app description is *gorgeous*, but I wonder who is going to have a house plan "on" their computer.

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Nonetheless, all we need are the first few bullet items in the description:

  • NetSpot collects and visualizes 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi data
  • support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz channel bands
  • lots of data collected on every network: AP name (SSID), MAC address (BSSID), vendor, channel, signal levels, encryption and more

Thanks for suggesting what seems to be a great freeware app for the Mac that supplements what iOS does with the AirPort Utility for this all-Apple household.

Reply to
Horace Algier

imacs do not require charging.

use wireless.

Reply to

As if creating a drawing of your own floor plan at all hard to do. Take some measurements and open your favorite drawing app; done deal. Took me less than five minutes. And you call yourself a "power user" who knows more than most "idiot" Apple users... : )

Reply to
Jolly Roger

He says he has an iMac laptop. It has a battery. But I wouldn't know an iMac from a Big Mac.

I'll ask him.

That works "if" he remembers his login/password. And, if he didn't turn off the wireless login. And if he didn't change the port.

I'm gonna call him at 5pm (oops. it's 5pm. I can call now).

Reply to
Horace Algier

Thanks for that idea, but more information is needed, e.g., the *channel* that each device is on.

The all-Apple house ran the iPad iOS app named "AirPort Utility" which showed them that they were on channel 11 while there were 19 others on channel 11 alone!

19! OMG. I've never seen airwaves *that* congested outside a college dorm atmosphere!

All three of the non-overlapping channels were filled with access points, but, strangely, channel 5 was empty, so I told them to set the *new* router to channel 5, and then give up on 2.4GHz wifi if they could.

I told them to set the iOS devices and computers to *only* use 5GHz if they can (dunno if that's possible though).

They haven't set up the new ac 1900 router (the ac 1750 at Best Buys was $130 and I told them that is just fine but they opted for the $200 ac 1900 just to be safe).

Thanks for that advice. I can't test it, and usually I find other peoples' instructions are always less detailed than mine (they skip steps), even when it's a DIY for fixing a car - I never skip a bolt - but other people assume a lot.

I sent them the reference though,

Reply to
Horace Algier

he's confused, as are you.

an imac is a desktop. a macbook is a laptop.

no surprise there.

there's nothing to remember since he just bought a *new* wifi router.

it'll have whatever password he gives it when he sets it up.

Reply to

I have a couple of kids in graduate school and where they live they have tons of others nearby.

One has 50Mbps service from Comcast, as I recall, and she gets almost


BTW, a trick I learned the hard way is that after 1 year of the "introductory rate" from Comcast, they raise your bill - and it used to be that if you called them, they'd automatically give you the introductory rate again.

I was told recently that they *stopped* doing that in October of last year. If that's true, then they said they don't lower your rates back to the original rates.

However ....

I looked up on Zillow a house for sale in the nearby area of the kid and called Comcast as a new owner of that house, giving them a bogus phone number at that address and they told me that the house I chose hasn't had Internet for two years (lucky me).

Then they gave me an *introductory rate*, which was *lower* (by a lot!) than the rate they had just told us they couldn't give us.

I wrote *everything* down (that's where an automatic call recorder excels, because you can play back all their crazy package names!) and then we called back on the original Comcast account and argued with them until they gave us *those* introductory rates.

So, yeah, it took *multiple* phone calls, where Comcast effectively lied to us (where is Rod Speed when I need him to proclaim a lie?) but we got the "introductory rate".

Reply to
Horace Algier

Folks may consider adding "optout" for Microsoft Windows 10, and "_nomap" for Google.

Dunno if Apple respects these opt out keywords though...

Nobody seems to know the answer...

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Q: Does Apple adhere to Google's _nomap router location optout?

Reply to
Horace Algier

Nah. Those of us who understand security implications of them have no need or desire to try to hide or otherwise obfuscate them.

In general, and to a much greater extent than both Google and Microsoft, Apple respects the privacy of its customers enough not to bother doing anything that would harm their privacy.

Reply to
Jolly Roger

  1. You do realize that Google's is a *public* database, right?
  2. And that the db is updated every moment of every day, right?
  3. Therefore, if someone drives by your house with an Android phone in their pocket, not set up like mine is, and they drive by close enough to pick up your WiFi signals, they automatically send your BSSID (aka your unique MAC address) to Google's public database.

Given that, what happens, if you broadcast your SSID (e.g., if your phone is a hotspot), then anyone in the world who knows your BSSID can tell if you're at a particular home, if they happen to know the BSSID of that particular home.

You do know this, right?

Reply to
Horace Algier

So what? It's certainly not a problem for me.

Bullshit. The SSID doesn't give them any such information. You're extremely confused.

Reply to
Jolly Roger

Fair enough.

Google gets a *lot* more information than your SSID.

  1. They get your GPS location.
  2. They get your BSSID (which is your unique MAC address!) NOTE: This is the address that is nearly impossible to change, not the one that is trivial to clone!

They get more than that (e.g., they get your SSID) but those two are unique.

The lookup is free and is an open public database updated constantly:

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Most of the parameters are optional, but essentially if you know the MAC address of the person you are tracking, and you know the MAC address of the location you want to check if they're nearby, then you just make up a signal strength, and Voila!

You can geolocate anyone!

Here is a sample request with very many *optional* parameters: { "homeMobileCountryCode": 310, "homeMobileNetworkCode": 260, "radioType": "gsm", "carrier": "T-Mobile", "cellTowers": [ { "cellId": 39627456, "locationAreaCode": 40495, "mobileCountryCode": 310, "mobileNetworkCode": 260, "age": 0, "signalStrength": -95 } ], "wifiAccessPoints": [ { "macAddress": "01:23:45:67:89:AB", "signalStrength": 8, "age": 0, "signalToNoiseRatio": -65, "channel": 8 }, { "macAddress": "01:23:45:67:89:AC", "signalStrength": 4, "age": 0 } ] }

Here are the only mandatory parameters: { "macAddress": "01:23:45:67:89:AB", "signalStrength": 8, }, { "macAddress": "01:23:45:67:89:AC", "signalStrength": 8, }

That is, all you need are two real MAC addresses and one (fabricated) signal strength, and you can find out if two people are in the same location at any point in time from anywhere in the world.

Reply to
Horace Algier

which is good, so everyone benefits.

no it isn't.

that's how the wifi location database is populated, which *helps* determine location *without* needing power-hungry gps or falling back to cellular which is not very accurate.

no they can't.

Reply to

without that, location would not work as well.

changing a mac address is not that hard.


Reply to

Tell me that it's not true that all you need is:

  3. WiFi Signal Strength

And Google will tell you if those two are next to each other. C'mon.

Tell me it can't be done with just that information.

Reply to
Horace Algier

This one is. It's not the "clone" MAC address. It's on the other side of the radio.

You have to desolder the chip. Who is gonna do that?

Jeff Liebermann explained the entire thing in gory detail on alt.intenet.wireless in the past.

Suffice to summarize that it's not easy to change the BSSID that Google and WiGLe save to their public databases.

Reply to
Horace Algier

who cares

having that database is a *good thing*.

Reply to

Well, your wife also has those things, but she can *track* your whereabouts using the free public API, even if you told her you were working late at the office.

All she needs to track you is ... a. Your MAC address b. The MAC address at your girlfriend's house c. A fake signal strength reading

Reply to
Horace Algier

A friend asked me to consider working with him to write a program to track spouses. I don't have the skills, so I declined, but, under FriendDA, we discussed...

The program would be used by spouse 1. Spouse 1 would enter the phone MAC address of spouse 2. Spouse 1 would also enter the MAC address(es) of suspected lovers' homes which spouse 1 would get by driving by the suspected homes. Lastly, spouse 1 would ensure the spouse 2 was broadcasting the SSID.

That's it for what Spouse 1 has to do.

Any lookup to the Google database will tell spouse 1 "if" and "when" spouse

2 was at location1, or location2, or location3, etc.

These locations can be *any* MAC address, e.g., location1 = MAC address of starbucks on 100 main street location2 = MAC address of spouse2's boss location3 = MAC address of pretty neighbor across town etc.

This would be *easy* to write for anyone who can code, since the Google public API only needs three things:

  1. Two MAC addresses
  2. A (fabricated is fine) signal strength

That's all it needs.

Reply to
Horace Algier Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.