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Snooping Through Walls with Microwaves

ScuttleMonkey posted about 9 years ago | from the time-to-buy-stock-in-tinfoil dept.

Privacy 217

denis-The-menace writes "According to an article from newscientist, scientists have devised a system to use microwave energy for surveillance. If people are speaking inside the room, any flimsy surface, such as clothing, will be vibrating. This modulates the radio beam reflected from the surface. Although the radio reflection that passes back through the wall is extremely faint, the kind of electronic extraction and signal cleaning tricks used by NASA to decode signals in space can be used to extract speech. Although, I doubt it would work in this room"

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1st sign the feds are onto you... (5, Funny)

titla1k (875330) | about 9 years ago | (#13879241)

is there's a van sitting outside your house, with a whole lot of kitchen appliances pointing at it.

Re:1st sign the feds are onto you... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879257)

Do we really care if they are in Old Europe FB!!!
We have freedom here.

Re:1st sign the feds are onto you... (2, Funny)

pilybaby (638883) | about 9 years ago | (#13879432)

...owned by the company


Re:1st sign the feds are onto you... (1)

mikeage (119105) | about 9 years ago | (#13879439)

Or a "Flowers By Irene" van...

Re:1st sign the feds are onto you... (4, Funny) (745183) | about 9 years ago | (#13879452)

If people are speaking [then] clothing... will be vibrating.

So the hell with eyes... it's actually possible to undress her with your diction...

Fire Fire, heh heh.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879764)

Heh heh, he said 'Dic'tion. Heh heh

Invest in AA (5, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#13879242)

I think I'm going to buy stock in Alcoa Operations [] ...with shenanigans like this going on, they can only increase in value.

In the meantime, here's some telltale signs you might be under microwave surveillance:
  • You feel slightly warmer than is normal.
  • Your food seems to be cooking itself.
  • Metal objects in your house give off sparks for no good reason.
  • Your coffee remins hot for a very long time.
  • Your beer remains cold for a very short time.
  • All your CDs are covered with tiny cracks and will no longer play.
  • Your house pets smell delicious.

Watch for these signs and protect your privacy...cause the government certainly isn't going to.

Re:Invest in AA (-1, Flamebait)

NoGuffCheck (746638) | about 9 years ago | (#13879254)

they are all answers to the question:

how do you know when a frenchman has been in your yard?

Re:Invest in AA (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879263)

Aside from the fact that farmers and subsidies have all but shut down Alcoa in the US, Aluminum is a poor choice, and hence wouldn't be used. Lead. That would be the metal of choice. It has properties which make it excellent at sound proofing. Vibrating aluminum would modulate their signal quite nicely.

Re:Invest in AA (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879420)

You must mean aluminium. That's how it's spelt in the English language. Pronunciation: al-you-min-ee-um.

Re:Invest in AA (5, Informative)

mikiN (75494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879506)

There is no such thing as the English language. There are, however, at least two widely spoken dialects, both of which use different spellings for the word aluminium [] .

Re:Invest in AA (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879524)

The element was discovered by an American who named it Aluminum. The British rejected this and gave it the name Aluminium for their usage (so it would end in "ium" just like HeliUM, LithIUM, BerrylIUM, etc). Aluminum is the standard American spelling. Aluminium is the standard spelling in British Commonwealth countries. While I appreciate the British desire for consistency, the Americans can legitimately argue that the person who discovered it should be able to name it whatever they bloody well want.

I say this as an Australian.

Re:Invest in AA (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 9 years ago | (#13879381)

Yah, like they're NOT in on the whole conspiracy!

Re:Invest in AA (2, Interesting)

MacGod (320762) | about 9 years ago | (#13879451)

On the plus side, it should automagically explode all the super-evil RFID tracking tags in your razors and potato chip bags and whatnot. It's nice to trade one form of surveillance for another, and this sure would be faster than putting each individual item in the microwave oven one at a time!

Re:Invest in AA (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879479)

About your sig:
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one " -Albert Einstein

I strongly doubt Einstein ever said that. After all, he was a die-hard realist, which was also the reason why he had big problems with the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

OT: Einstein quotes... (2, Informative)

stupid_is (716292) | about 9 years ago | (#13879516)

Google it and there's lots of site who're convinced he did. Granted that some of the origins seem to stem from an unsubstantiated chain mail, but he did seem to come up with all sorts of soundbyte gems.

Here [] is one such site.

Re:Invest in AA (2, Insightful)

mikiN (75494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879558)

In the meantime, here's some telltale signs you might be under microwave surveillance:

Add to this
  • Your WiFi connection becomes erratic, to the point of being unusable

Re:Invest in AA (0, Offtopic)

mikiN (75494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879570)

post.mod(parent, Redundant)

=> D'uh

Re:Invest in AA (1)

Mudcathi (584851) | about 9 years ago | (#13879627)

With the exception of metal objects giving off sparks, all of those telltale signs could also be associated with living in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina passed through (yes, including the delicious housepet, for those poor souls who were stuck in the Superdome!)

Just Friggin' Great (4, Funny)

SecureTheNet (915798) | about 9 years ago | (#13879243)

Now, when the NSA spies on me, my wi-fi network will be unable to work due to interference!

Re:Just Friggin' Great (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879456)

Maybe the NSA will just use the waves your WLAN sends out anyway. Which has the advantage (to the NSA) that there's no additional wave source which you might be able to detect.

Re:Just Friggin' Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879540)

That wouldn't work though.. You don't know when the wave was sent and so can't use it as a pingback from the object (and can't measure modulation)

Especially when routers work in ms not the fractions of a second EM waves take to travel.

Re:Just Friggin' Great (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879628)

You can simply measure the direct wave coming from the access point as well. After all, it's not that you get only the reflected wave. As added bonus, any distortion of the signal by going through the wall applies simlarly to both the direct and the reflected wave, therefore allowing you to compensate for that.

Coral (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879244)

I for one welcome our new coral cached link story submitting overlords.

oh no (5, Funny)

NoGuffCheck (746638) | about 9 years ago | (#13879247)

luckily my parents basement has thick walls.

Makes little difference (4, Interesting)

polysylabic psudonym (820466) | about 9 years ago | (#13879259)

How many criminals protect against laser audio surveillance, where a laser beam is bounced off a window or other rigid surface, and the sound from the room vibrates the surface, wobbling the beam, the wobble being translated into audio by the snooper.

The laser can be defeated by double glazing (I think), devices to vibrate windows and laser detectors (to tell you if you're being listened to).

A microwave device can be defeated by the good old tinfoil hat - by which I mean wallpapering in foil or otherwise turning the room into a faraday cage.

Re:Makes little difference (3, Interesting)

cheekyboy (598084) | about 9 years ago | (#13879275)

If the crims are making 100's of millions, spending 0.01% of counter measures is INSURANCE

hence, the drug lords of south america spend tonnes of tonnes of cash on goodies.

The best crims are never found out hence, their success and covertness.

a) buy gold
b) hide in 50% legit 5% return businesses
c) learn sign language
d) study tonnes of tonnes of history of cold ware espianage
e) never ever talk , paint a false picture to everyone including your wife/kids
f) cover tracks and never park anywhere, unless you own the govt, or they owe you billions.

Re:Makes little difference (4, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 9 years ago | (#13879453)

The best crims are never found out hence, their success and covertness.

a) buy gold
e) never ever talk , paint a false picture to everyone including your wife/kids

Doesn't that include not discussing it on Slashdot either? Plus, you forgot...

(g) Don't give away all your secrets.

Re:Makes little difference (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 9 years ago | (#13879299)

I don't know but next time I have an illegal conversation i am going to be playing rap music with a sub woofer cranked all the way up.

A little bass will go a long way towards destroying whatever signal they think they can get.

Re:Makes little difference (1)

Punkrokkr (592052) | about 9 years ago | (#13879332)

Better get patent on that right away!

Re:Makes little difference (4, Funny)

jolyonr (560227) | about 9 years ago | (#13879382)

Therefore anyone listening to rap music must be a criminal!

Arrest them straight away!


Re:Makes little difference (4, Funny)

Jetboy01 (550638) | about 9 years ago | (#13879303)

With all these new snooping devices being invented, I think it's time someone devised the 'tinfoil flat'.

Re:Makes little difference (1)

flashdot1234 (925924) | about 9 years ago | (#13879471)

> A microwave device can be defeated by the good old tinfoil hat - by which I mean wallpapering in foil or otherwise turning the room into a faraday cage.

Make sure you fasten it properly, then :-)
If the tinfoil is loose, it too will vibrate, increasing the effect described.
Tin foil reflects microwaves better than fabric.

Re:Makes little difference (5, Funny)

Talas213 (881991) | about 9 years ago | (#13879529)

A microwave device can be defeated by the good old tinfoil hat - by which I mean wallpapering in foil or otherwise turning the room into a faraday cage.

I'd suggest lining the walls with bags of popcorn. That way you'll know when you're under survellance and have a nice snack readily available.

Re:Makes little difference (1)

the_xaqster (877576) | about 9 years ago | (#13879726)

This is classic! That way you know you are under survellance as your wallpaper explodes!

I just can't stop laughing at the picture that has conjured up in my head!

In analogue phone days (2, Interesting)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 9 years ago | (#13879265)

Some associates were spied on by the telephone.

Just because the receiver was on the cradle didn't mean that the microphone wasn't active.

The cops played stuff back in interviews/court that was off topic but was the occupants bitching about each other to try and divide and conquer them.

This was in Leeds, UK.

I can't remember many more details or find a link. I didn't know them at the time and only heard about it later as a warning.

Re:In analogue phone days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879375)

this sounds far fetched
even if the exchange can give you the isolated "loop feed" the switch on the appliance[ie off the hook] has to be open surely?
and it being uk plods.

okay i suppose bt could have the know how
the bastards

Re:In analogue phone days (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 9 years ago | (#13879413)

I guess they could have lied about the source of the tapes but tapes there were and that was how the cops said they got it.

AFAIK there are four wires in a POTS phone, two for 48Vdc power (OnHook/OffHook being a switch), two for signal.

You just need to splice the signal wires in the house's junction box and amplify.

As you might expect, I'm no expert =)

Re:In analogue phone days (2, Informative)

ettlz (639203) | about 9 years ago | (#13879414)

I didn't think that sort of evidence was admissible in a UK court.

Re:In analogue phone days (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 9 years ago | (#13879533)

It must have been used just in the interviews then

Re:In analogue phone days (4, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 9 years ago | (#13879448)

MI5 developed this in the 1950s, and called it Special Facilities. All it required at the start was a modification to the phone - a single washer, and the phone could be used as a surveillence device. Later versions enabled activation using high frequency radio waves to activate the telephones microphone and required no modification to the phone itself.

Survellience was also carried out against embassy cypher machines using unshielded telephone cables picking up eletromagnetic emissions from the cypher machines, in many cases enabling the reading of both the en clair message and the cypher material.

None of this was admissable in a UK court. Phone tap evidence still isnt.

Not new tech (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879267)

I don't think this a new technology. I think that this is just a new take on a technology that Léon Theremin (inventor of the Theremin instrument) was working on for the KGB in the 50-60s. He was using infrared bounced off of windows to detect conversations inside (or something). [] éon_Theremin

Re:Not new tech (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 9 years ago | (#13879569)

Unfortunetely, he never did get all the bugs out of his device. People always knew they were being listened to when the creepy music started. "Quiet, it's the KGB .. or the Krell."

Fluff piece (4, Informative)

gtoomey (528943) | about 9 years ago | (#13879277)

This "story" is just a reference to a patent application [] .

Even at 100GHz, the wavelength of microwaves is 3 mm. But sound waves inside a room would cause a surface to vibrate perhaps 0.001 mm. You cant modulate a 3mm wave to record 0.001 mm changes.

Re:Fluff piece (1)

smchris (464899) | about 9 years ago | (#13879308)

Doh!! I'm am amateur radio operator. I should have been able to do the math too.

Yes. The last time I heard this story, I thought they were using a laser beam -- which makes a lot more sense.

Re:Fluff piece (4, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | about 9 years ago | (#13879462)

>"You cant modulate a 3mm wave to record 0.001 mm changes." You're partially correct. It would be difficult to detect the modulations, EXCEPT that if you're also the sender of the original signal, you can mix the incoming and outgoing signals and extract the phase difference. Subtraction is a VERY powerful signal-extraction method!

There's an anecdote in the engineering field: where some poor sods at Racal-Dana had a phase detector at 50MHz that was so sensitive to vibration they had to stop their experiments whenever a plane took off from Orange County Airport (quite a few miles away). They eventually had to get special thick aluminum wall castings to enclose the phase detector to block the vibrations. And this was at just 50MHz. Phase detectors get more sensitive proportional to operating frequency, so a 5,000 MHz phase detector is *mighty* sensitive!

Mod Parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879565)

And fill the stub: []

Re:Fluff piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879554)

0.001mm at 3mm wawelength is 0.12degrees phase change. Now check the instruments sensitivity.

Re:Fluff piece (1)

unoengborg (209251) | about 9 years ago | (#13879562)

Water is used as reflector for dipol antennas at sea (you only need the upper half of the antenna).
Wouldn't that mean that you should be able to see humans (made of 80% water) inside buildings by using radar/microwave technology. If that was possible, perhaps you could use lip reading, to see what people are saying. Lips ar much bigger than 3mm.

Re:Fluff piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879692)

What about just looking at the phase change of the reflected signal? Like the RADAR guns used for traffic speed enforcement?

Re:Fluff piece (4, Insightful)

pz (113803) | about 9 years ago | (#13879762)

Even at 100GHz, the wavelength of microwaves is 3 mm. But sound waves inside a room would cause a surface to vibrate perhaps 0.001 mm. You cant modulate a 3mm wave to record 0.001 mm changes.

Interference detectors, more commonly known as interferometers, can detect distances far below the wavelength used to make the measurements. For example, 800 nm infrared laser light can readily be used to resolve 5 nm differences (I've worked on the development of such a system). Further, the distances being considered for measuring the movement of things like clothing or the throat and chest of the speaker are far above one micron (0.001 mm): put your finger on your throat and speak; think that's one micron you're feeling?

It was news... 45 years ago. (3, Insightful)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | about 9 years ago | (#13879278)

The Soviet KGB have been doing exactly this since before 1960. Windowpanes make good microwave reflectors. All it takes is a simple microwave source and mixer. Nothing new to see here.

Re:It was news... 45 years ago. (1)

polysylabic psudonym (820466) | about 9 years ago | (#13879323)

That was lasers. Microwaves pass straight through glass.

Re:It was news... 45 years ago. (5, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | about 9 years ago | (#13879410)

Uh, not quite. For many reasons.
  • There were no "lasers" in 1960. At least not the very stable continuous-wave lasers that you need for this, and especially not in the USSR.
  • Think-- do lasers go through glass? Do lasers bounce off glass? Might other wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation act similarly?
  • Microwaves bounce off most anything, if you pick the right angle. Conveniently, most buildings have the windows recessed a bit, and any concave corner makes an EXCELLENT "corner reflector", which has the amazing property of bouncing any incident beam right back to the sender.
Not only did they bounce microwaves off glass-- they had the hutzpah to give the US ambassador a honorary plaque, which he hung on his office wall. Unbeknownst to us, there was a little diaphragm inside the plaque, just the right wavelength to reflect K-band microwavesm, which vibrated very nicely to every word spoken in his office. Look it up.

Re:It was news... 45 years ago. (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | about 9 years ago | (#13879643)

It's not so much the angle, as the polarization. At bruster's angle (around 36 degrees for glass) light polarised in a certain way will all bounce off. Light polarised in the opposite way will all pass through.

Re:It was news... 45 years ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879532)

Yeah, Peter Wright makes a reference to the British version used about 30 years ago.
It is just called the 'thing'. From the description it is a passive audio sensor
based on interferometry, but not in the optical wavelengths. If British intelligence had
the 'thing' working back then I can hardly see how this is news, unless it is the *cough*, er 'official'
news release.

Tinfoil hats out, team! (0)

victorhooi (830021) | about 9 years ago | (#13879282)


I can just see how this is going to get the already paranoid all aflutter...

Still, I can definitely see some potential for this. I mean, say, listening to my sister b*tch about me to her friends in her room, or what my parents talk about in the sanctity of their bedroom. shall have no secrets from me, feeble people who trust in walls, cower before my might...

Also, is it just me, but does the NewScientist site seem to be a bit...slow...*evil grin*...hehe...even the great NS cowers before the might of the barbarian Slashdot hordes.


Re:Tinfoil hats out, team! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879297)

You're really cool, dude.

Re:Tinfoil hats out, team! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 9 years ago | (#13879491)

Hey now that stuff is very important to a 10 year old.

Re:Tinfoil hats out, team! (1)

polysylabic psudonym (820466) | about 9 years ago | (#13879329)

Sister and parents? What's wrong with a glass pressed against the wall?

Re:Tinfoil hats out, team! (2, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879527)

Tinfoil is an excellent reflector. Therefore I'm sure tinfoil hats will actually help the snooper by creating much better signals.

How long? (3, Funny) (882444) | about 9 years ago | (#13879286)

How long till they incorporate this feature into an iPod?

Re:How long? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879545)

Or how long until the RIAA uses it to find out which music you hear, so they can charge you on it?

Food fun (4, Funny)

Snamh Da Ean (916391) | about 9 years ago | (#13879287)

Man, I knew that burrito I put in the microwave last night when I came home from a party was speaking to me...

This isnt new (3, Interesting) (632313) | about 9 years ago | (#13879290)

This tech has been around for a very long time, just not in the public sector.

If you look at any high security building(NSA, etc) they will have multi layers on the outside and inside of the buildings.

Not only is it physical security, but sound and wireless security.


LanMan04 (790429) | about 9 years ago | (#13879710)

They're called SCIFs (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), more info at: []

Also see TEMPEST - "a U.S. government code word for a set of standards for limiting electric or electromagnetic radiation emanations from electronic equipment such as microchips, monitors, or printers. It is a counter-intelligence measure aimed at the prevention of electronic espionage. The term TEMPEST is often used more broadly for the entire field of compromising emanations or Emissions Security (EMSEC)." []

foil vibrates too (2, Insightful)

dwater (72834) | about 9 years ago | (#13879295)

Wouldn't the sound in the room vibrate the foil on the wall? Said foil would reflect microwaves very nicely, I suspect...

Re:foil vibrates too (2, Funny)

polysylabic psudonym (820466) | about 9 years ago | (#13879333)

You're right. The foil will have to be glued to the wall sheeting, egg cartons to the foil, another layer of foil over the egg cartons.

Let 'em try then!

Re:foil vibrates too (1)

dwater (72834) | about 9 years ago | (#13879376)

It'd be easier just not to say anything, don't you think?

Without the foil....I wonder what happens when you turn on the microwave oven. Do they get deafened?

Re:foil vibrates too (1)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | about 9 years ago | (#13879459)

If you'll allow me to adapt a popular urban legend for this particular scenario...

American scientists spent millions of dollars on producing wall surface coverings that would absorb any voice vibrations in order to counter microwave listening devices.

Russian scientists used a pencil.

Foiled .... but what happened to by cell servide?? (1)

Totally_Lost (177765) | about 9 years ago | (#13879296)

Actually ... just the several inch leads on light fixtures and other electrical devices can become bi-directional antennas for the determined. You pretty much have to make the screen room such that power is completely issolated, and other other connections to the world severed.

Microwave Eavesdropping (2, Funny)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | about 9 years ago | (#13879305)

My preference to microwaves transmitted in order to invade my privacy is to send hot lead back,at high speed

e&p! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879318)

one common goal - Are you GAY (Click Here working on various the mundane c4ores you get distracted To work I'm doing, diseases. The

Very dangerous!!! (3, Informative)

elgatozorbas (783538) | about 9 years ago | (#13879359)

The summary mentioned microwave ovens, so some may be tempted to play around with a DIY radar. Don't!!! Of all domectic appliances a microwave is about the most dangerous to take apart. The RF radiation has a very high power and is invisible. When exposed to the electromagnetic field, currents start to flow inside the human body (mostly close to the skin) giving rise to burn-like wounds. Especially the risk of eye injury is significant. Don't try this at home.

Re:Very dangerous!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879404)

Thanks. Guess I'll wait and do it on the bus to work.

I can see the RIAA using it!! (3, Funny)

AnonymousYellowBelly (913452) | about 9 years ago | (#13879360)

Yeah, they listen to the music playing inside your house. Say you are hearing the latest hit from Britney Spears but the RIAA has no record of you buying it, well they turn the 'volume' to 11 on their microwave emitter and fry your balls, burn your house and kill your dog. Justice has been served, right?

Re:I can see the RIAA using it!! (1)

Elaarni (860004) | about 9 years ago | (#13879482)

Someone mod the above poster "redundant" Playing Britney would already have all of the listed effects.

Re:I can see the RIAA using it!! (1)

Rotund Prickpull (818980) | about 9 years ago | (#13879492)

I would say that's letting them off rather lightly. Anybody who listens to Tittney should be boiled slowly in piss & shit, all mixed together.

In your brain (-1, Troll)

Bloggingbymail (925876) | about 9 years ago | (#13879362)

If you entry inside a microwave owen with a Rfid tag in your brain... you are died...

niGg4 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879367)

Tinfoil hats (3, Insightful)

Jerom (96338) | about 9 years ago | (#13879368)

Funny thing is, with this kind of device tinfoil hats will actually improve "the black suits" reception, since tinfoil easily vibrates and reflects radiowaves really well.

*Sigh* what now?


Re:Tinfoil hats (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 years ago | (#13879573)

You have to use a material which absorbs the microwaves. Water should be a good absorber, therefore prepare to live in a gigantic aquarium ... which has the added advantage that it will also protect you from neutron bombs :-)

Coral Cache sucks (0, Offtopic)

pugdk (697845) | about 9 years ago | (#13879372)

Could we like.. stop the idiotic use of Coral cache links?

Not everyone and their mother has a firewall that can connect outbound to port 8090. Now get coral cache running on port 80 and it would be no problem.. but posting links with port 8090 is just.. lame. No, I can't correct this problem myself as I am not a system administrator at this place, nor is the blocking of anything besides a few ports ever going to go away in this place.

I suspect I'm not the only one annoyed by those links.. *grumbles*


Re:Coral Cache sucks (1)

J0nne (924579) | about 9 years ago | (#13879449)

Just truncate the part from the link, and reload.

And be happy that the site you're trying to reach isn't slashdotted for once.

Re:Coral Cache sucks (1)

stupid_is (716292) | about 9 years ago | (#13879541)

Annoyingly, our Corp firewall redirects to a warning web page with a different address, so it's a case of manually typing it in.

Maybe someone could do some magic with Greasemonkey to alter these links (IANAGP - Greasmonkey Programmer)

Re:Coral Cache sucks (2, Insightful)

bellers (254327) | about 9 years ago | (#13879477)

While annoying to a small number of people who can't connect to them, the coralcache links are vastly better than the alternative of slashdotting a site that cannot handle the load of a million nerds with refresh buttons.

When that happens, NO ONE can get to the page, not just those with lame firewalls.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Cooked while at home! (1)

Kranfer (620510) | about 9 years ago | (#13879403)

I can see if now.

"A local man was cooked alive by the FBI using of all things a Microwave to spy on his Bittorrent and file sharing PC! the man did not realize anything was wrong when he had a craving for his own arm. Local law enforcement were baffled to see that the man in question had eaten his arm to the elbow, and the rest of him seemed to be cooked except for his mid section which was on a rotating glass plate in his living room. A local FBI spokesman said, "We thought using a microwave oven would give us a clear view of the file sharer's life and how he does it!""

This is of course made up! haha. However using microwaves to peer through walls and see whats going on is kinda nifty. However, I would think it would be dangerous over prolonged exposure, since a microwave does move molecules around to heat stuff up.

Re:Cooked while at home! (1)

lonasindi (914571) | about 9 years ago | (#13879553)

A microwave oven uses massively more power than any kind of radio surveilance system would.

The amount of power going into this proposed system would be more on par with a small radio transmitter, probably no more than a few watts, versus the power output of a microwave which is usually 1000 watts or more. This system would be no more dangerous than the radio stations in your town.

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879415)

This is old news - I remember reading about it a few years ago.

It's scary technology though; the next house I build is going to have 2" of lead in the walls methinks.

Foil Room fallacy (3, Informative)

obfuscated (258084) | about 9 years ago | (#13879442)

The "Foil Room" won't help against snooping as you'd like to believe. (Prepare to ditch all your foil hats!!).

To truly block signals, you'd need to build a actual Faraday "cage" built with the smallest possible 'holes' so the waves created inside (be it voice, the sound of you typing or even waves emitted by the blinking LED from your Ethernet card) will be cancelled out. This is the same technology that the intelligence agencies employ against counter intelligence. That with foil (which is properly grounded) will work.

Solid surfaces such as foil can actually act as large AMPLIFIERS if implemented incorrectly since the waves will

Note that your microwave is surrounded by a Faraday cage to protect you from the rays; not foil.

A quick Google to back up my post yielded this page [] discussing similar topics.

Re:Foil Room fallacy (1)

mitcheli (894743) | about 9 years ago | (#13879556)

"Note that your microwave is surrounded by a Faraday cage to protect you from the rays; not foil."

So we just need to hide in the Microwave to protect ourselves from the Microwaves? hmm...

Not quite microwave (4, Informative)

Ge10 (803950) | about 9 years ago | (#13879487)

This has been around for a long time. In the book "Spycatcher" by ex-MI5 agent Peter Wright, he describes a bug used by the KGB to spy on the American ambassador in Hawaii (I think). There was a metal membrane hidden inside a wooden carving, which would passively vibrate with sounds in the room. A strong RF beam of around 900 MHz (details are hazy again, and it's not quite microwave) was directed towards the office from a fair distance away, then the signal would be minutely modulated and reflected by the metal membrane. It was able to work for several years, and this was in the 1960's. You can only guess what's available now.

Electronic signal cleaning technhiques (2, Informative)

kilodelta (843627) | about 9 years ago | (#13879507)

I guarantee they're using a MASER. You can thank RADAR pioneers from M.I.T. and Bell Labs for that.

That being said it is easily defeated. For example - short wavelengths below 1cm start resonating with water vapor. That's why doppler radar has been such a boon to meteorology.

But there are ways to stop it. Metal impregnated and grounded cement walls that are, oh, 6 to 8 feet below grade level would be reasonably safe. Of course don't put any windows, just ventilation.

And if you're really that much of a target they'd bug the place before they resorted to using microwave to listen in. BTW, for a good fantasy view of using microwave to peek in I highly recommend watching "The Siege" with Denzel Washinton and Tony Shaloub.

Maybe I am missing something... (2, Interesting)

data64 (300466) | about 9 years ago | (#13879523)

but wouldn't the simple precaution of turning up the radio/TV defeat this ? Humans can pickout certain noise and filter out everything else quite easily. How does tinfoil and other "vibrating surfaces" fare in this regards ?

old hat (2, Informative)

fliptout (9217) | about 9 years ago | (#13879535)

The president at one of my former companies was a colonel in the Army Security Agency. He used to tell me all sorts of things, including how the Russians bombarded the US embassy with radiation to get signature signals back. And this was in the 60s or before. The surveillance technology available to intelligence now must be quite interesting.

Perverting Technology (2, Informative)

rhkaloge (208983) | about 9 years ago | (#13879537)

I actually know researchers who have been working with what they call "wall penatrating RADAR" and it sounds a lot like this - it more detects movement and sound then being able to image what is in a room. The big things they claim it would be good for is detecting fires from a distance, finding people trapped in places (it can detect a heartbeat) and, yes, seeing that sniper around the corner. I don't think they considered audio survallence, or at least they never told us about it. But I suppose once you have a patent, you can use the tech for any purpose, noble or sinister.

tubgirHl (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13879656)

things the ri6ht []

What about those with pacemakers? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | about 9 years ago | (#13879700)

Any chance this could affect those with pacemakers?

Nevemind walls, what about glass (1)

NewKimAll (923422) | about 9 years ago | (#13879732)

I could have sworn this is ancient technology where they would use microwaves or a laser to do the same thing, but bounce it off glass. It seems to me a piece of glass would be far more superior to use than a wall. Of course, if you have double or triple paned glass, this could be a problem.

Obvious question (1)

rlp (11898) | about 9 years ago | (#13879737)

Can you mount the detector on top of a handheld railgun??
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