MIT Has Made Password-Free WiFi Possible

Updated on

Gaining access to a WiFi network using a long and complicated password is tedious.

In many cases it won’t even protect the network from unwelcome intruders because the level of protection is too low or unsophisticated. Now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a way to negate the need for WiFi passwords, while at the same time making the networks safer to use.

Chronos system controls WiFi access based on location

The work was undertaken by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). The team is led by Professor Dina Katabi, and has come up with a system called Chronos.

Chronos allows a WiFi router to work out exactly where all of the adapters connected to it are currently located. The technology could enable WiFi access based on your exact location, rather than using a password.

This would make it far harder for hackers to access your WiFi network from a remote location. The system works out how long it takes for data to reach the access point from a user’s device, before combining data from multiple WiFi bands to improve accuracy. The scientists say that their technique is up to 20 times more accurate than existing technology.

Accuracy of system could lead to privacy concerns

During testing at a typical home, Chronos was able to work out which room a user was in 94% of the time. At a coffee shop the system could differentiate between users inside the store and intruders outside the store in 97% of cases.

As well as restricting access to WiFi networks, Chronos could be used to make sure that drones stay a safe distance away from people or to find lost devices. However there are several kinks that need to be ironed out, including privacy.

Some users are likely to be alarmed by the system’s potential to be used to track user location, but at the same time it is important to work on improving WiFi security. As we have seen recently in the Apple versus FBI legal battle, the tech world is going through a lot of soul searching in the privacy versus security debate.

The MIT researchers may find themselves involved in another area of that particular debate. You can read the whole research paper below.

Leave a Comment