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Special Paint Can Keep Your Wi-Fi Private

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 20 comments

It's no secret that Wi-Fi is not the most secure way of accessing the Internet. Even with encryption, wireless internet is about as secure as a screen door.

If you're like me, living in close-quarters in the college-student-heavy population of Boston, seeing several, sometimes dozens, of wireless networks in your wireless connection window is commonplace. Sometimes it can be advantageous, like if your roommate forgets to pay the Comcast bill, you can always "borrow" your upstairs neighbors wireless until yours is reactivated. However, as a Tom's reader, you're likely doing anything and everything to try and keep your Wi-Fi signal yours and yours alone.

Well, thanks to a research team out of the University of Tokyo, your Wi-Fi may be safe from mooching neighbors and hacker villains. While using special paint to block wireless signals is nothing new, using said paint for Wi-Fi is. Keeping the technical talk short, current radio-resistant paint can block signals 50GHz and below. "The latest wireless communications tend to use electromagnetic waves with a frequency of over 100GHz plus," according to PC World. The research team now claims it now has a paint that can effectively block the higher frequency wireless signals.

Shin-ichi Ohkoshi's team at the university has discovered a new aluminum-iron oxide that can block frequencies up to 182GHz. "We collaborated with DOWA Electronics, a Japanese industrial company, to make a 100-kilogram sample order," said Ohkoshi. "The manufacturing cost is very cheap, around £10 (USD $14) per kg." Using aluminum and iron, two very attainable materials, this paint should enter the market at a reasonable price point.

According to the researchers, the bonds between iron and oxygen are the distorted, usual shape, which apparently gives the paint its magnetic properties. Further study should also lead to identifying new compounds that can absorb even higher frequencies.

Next time (or decade) you go into Sherman Williams or Home Depot to redecorate your office, keep an eye peeled for this Wi-Fi-resistant paint.

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  • 2 Hide
    Marcus Yam , January 27, 2009 10:16 AM
    Interesting technology, except I can't help but think that you're literally painting yourself in a corner.

    Put another way, this is akin to locking down your house so tightly that not only can no one get in, but you can't get out either.

    For the purpose of keeping Wi-Fi private, the blocking of signals is what you want -- but what if the time comes when you need to leech off the signal of others?
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , January 27, 2009 10:36 AM
    You guys know that wireless is 2.4 GHz and 5.2 GHz for the newer stuff right? The "old" paint that will block signals below 50 GHz is way more then enough....
  • 0 Hide
    StupidRabbit , January 27, 2009 11:15 AM
    im not sure "honey, we need to repaint the house because im too lazy to set up a WPA encryption" (in a packed neighborhood) is a good enough excuse... unless they have the color your wife loves!!!!
  • Display all 20 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    nekatreven , January 27, 2009 12:07 PM
    GhostMonkeyYou guys know that wireless is 2.4 GHz and 5.2 GHz for the newer stuff right? The "old" paint that will block signals below 50 GHz is way more then enough....

    Yea, that stuff has blocked wifi for some time now. A bit off on that part I think.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 27, 2009 12:17 PM
    A 10 chars, upper and lower case letters only, random passphrase (for AES-128) assures you a computer with 2 4870x2 would still need more than 20.000 years to hack it.

    Just use 20 chars to be on the safe side and forget it.
  • 2 Hide
    monkeysweat , January 27, 2009 12:39 PM
    Whatif I want to use my cellphone in my house,,,would I be blocking that, too?

    Also,,,what about the windows? I don't know about you guys,,but I got windows in every room in my house,,,,
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 27, 2009 1:40 PM
    I'd prefer Ethernet.
  • 0 Hide
    trkorecky , January 27, 2009 2:25 PM
    Wouldn't this be counter-intuitive unless you only painted the outside of your house or the walls that line the outside? Else you'd just be trapping the signal from the router into a single room in your house, no?
  • 0 Hide
    StupidRabbit , January 27, 2009 3:02 PM
    KrenkI'd prefer Ethernet.

    well.. once youve got wifi its hard do go back. its a little counter productive if you already have a router set up. but the cellphone question is a good one.
  • 0 Hide
    kittle , January 27, 2009 4:15 PM
    I would think that would make it really hard to make an outgoing cellphone call?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 27, 2009 5:26 PM
    So now I need my building inspector to check the paint in the house to make sure I can recieve radio, TV, cell phone, etc. signals before moving in huh? It's not like you can just paint over to undo the previous changes. This idea sucks for residential use.

    Or how about you live in a condo and all the neighbors above, below, left, right, and opposite do this? Then you are screwed.

    Now for commercial applications, this may have some merit, as long as landlines are made easily accessible in case of emergency.
  • 0 Hide
    Grims , January 27, 2009 5:55 PM
    I can see movie theaters doing this to block cellphone use.
  • 0 Hide
    ira176 , January 27, 2009 6:09 PM
    What about your cell phones or home wireless phones?
  • 0 Hide
    StupidRabbit , January 27, 2009 9:26 PM
    ira176What about your cell phones or home wireless phones?

    wireless phones connect to a reciever that is indoors, so that isnt a problem.. and another problem is that you cant get rid of the paint as easily as you put it on..
  • 0 Hide
    nekatreven , January 28, 2009 4:00 PM
    StupidRabbitwireless phones connect to a reciever that is indoors, so that isnt a problem.. and another problem is that you cant get rid of the paint as easily as you put it on..

    cell phones operate below wifi frequencies, otherwise their signal wouldn't have the penetration power that it they'd be blocked too.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 29, 2009 12:00 PM
    Not only that, but TV and radio signals using antennas to receive will not pass through.

    The positive side is that you'll have a room 'free' of the millions of radiation that flows through the air every second.
    It should be able to reduce the risk of cancer, but then again, perhaps the paint itself is more cancerous than the radiowaves.

    I wished they would create this product as 'transparent paint', so I won't need to redo my whole house due to the inavailability of color; and perhaps I could just paint part of a wall where my router is placed.
    Sometimes a small shielding would be enough to stop neighbors from leeching.
  • 0 Hide
    kgrach , April 17, 2009 1:10 AM
    uhh this is a joke right.
    Somebody this is an aprils fools joke right!!

    Painting your house with thermite (iron-oxide aluminium powder mixture ) is a really bad idea. Gee I don't like my nieghbors leeching my wifi, so I think I will paint my house with rocket fuel!!!

    Also since 2.4 ghz is way below 50ghz existing paint is good enough.
    the only stuff above 50 Ghz is satellite most of which is yet to be deployed.

    I think I would prefer lead based paint. As long as I resist chewing on the molding I think I will be okay. Thermite on the other hand will burn very hot and very quickly.

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 19, 2011 3:02 AM
    Hey if i cover my house in stealth paint does that mean it will sell faster due to being able to travel at ultrasonic speeds?

    Hows this for a marketing stroke of genious.

    For SALE stealth house. Stop! rocketing rate hikes by moving suburbs in complete secrecy *Tested 100% telemarketer and door salesperson proof.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 19, 2011 3:13 AM
    This stuff is rubbish i still get interference from 27Mhz CBers and the disgruntled amateurs down the road and i drank a whole tin.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 19, 2011 3:20 AM
    My friend used it in his underground fallout shelter and was still getting pager interference.
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