Wednesday, May 12, 2004

SST-PR-1 Phenomenon
I started a KisMac scan on my iBook over lunch today. To my delight I started finding roaming beacons from the highway. It seems if you travel with your laptop open and a scanner running, you will find many of these wireless devices all with the same name.

I have never found a satisfying answer to my question of, "what the hell are these?". They pop up everywhere, with different MAC addresses, and it seems to be that they are coming from random trucks. I did some Googling and found several different running debates on just what these are. Many theorize that it's a sears repair truck/van. "SST" stands for "Sears Technician Truck", or at least that's ones guess.

Others theorize that this just happens to be the default name given to a device installed in trucks to relay information to the trucking company when they come back within range of the access point. When found, these WiFi devices are always set into Ad-Hoc mode (one wireless card to another, without an Access Point), and they always seem to have WEP enabled. It seems to me that these are not only in use by Sears.

Another guy thinks that your wireless device may be picking up these signals, and then broadcasting them back around, and keeping them in circulation. In other words, a truck might pass a Sears van and pick up the access point named "SST-PR-1". It would then make attempts to find this network, or start advertising this network itself, even though it has long lost touch with it. The idea being that one truck might be in range of the access point, while others are just outside of range. By acting as a repeater the truck could carry the signal a little further, so the other trucks could be part of this network for a data transfer. Interesting theory. Here are "Greg's" words which I copied from a Wardriving forum.

Your laptop is repeating a signal that it at one point DID come across but has since lost. In fact, case in point, if you "hibernate" your laptop you will occasionally find that pre-existing networks still show up on your laptop / handheld strong as ever... This phoenomenon can also be exhibited after powering your laptop off and back on again while it attempts to re-acquire lost signals.

All of these are good theories, but as of yet, this seems to be all they are. People keep dismissing the claims and saying "it's a Sears truck, stop investigating", but from what I have seen, there has to be other possibilities. I have chased "Yellow" trucks, as well as "Wal-Mart" trucks that emitted this same SSID. Have you all found anything interesting?

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