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by Mike Zazaian September 2, 2006 - 6:20pm, 1 Comment

Kyle Williams of the Janus Wireless Research Group in Portland, Oregon seems like a pretty average guy at first glance. Unassuming grin, psuedo-Indiana-Jones leather hat, blue t-shirt. But what sets Kyle apart is his portable computer dubbed “Janus,” a unique little tote-around capable of scanning 300 wireless networks at a time.

Janus Computer

Packing a 1.5 GHz VIA C7 processor under the hood, and an Acer 17″ LCD screen, Janus runs Ubuntu 6.0 Linux with eight a/b/g-enabled mini-PCI WiFi cards which constantly scan the area for wireless networks and log all of the activity in the area on a 20GB hard drive.

Aside from harmless network sniffing the Janus can, you guessed it, crack a WEP key like none other. Williams can focus all eight wireless cards on one WiFi spot with some intimidating results, “When I use all 8 radios to focus in on a single access point, [the WEP key] lasts less than five minutes.”

The Janus also sports an “instant-off” switch, which, when thrown, renders the computer completely and the data within completely inaccessible, that is, to anybody who doesn’t have William’s unique USB key with 2000-bit passkey and manual password to boot it up again. And just because it couldn’t be any other way, the durable yellow case is completely waterproof, perfect for the weekend scuba diver with an itch for wardriving. It might seem excessive at first, but comes into focus when Williams revealed his future intentions for the project, “Maybe one day I could get the military to be a customer.”

Let’s hope there’s no “Navy Seals with Janus computers” loophole written into the Patriot act.