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28 October 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Coming Up : Inside Out - East: Monday February 20, 2006

Wifi crime

Computer user
Wifi crime - are you an unwitting victim?

Computers - how did we ever live without them?

We've had email, the internet, teleworking, teleshopping, home banking, and music downloading.

The latest development is wifi - the ability to access it all anywhere… in the street, in a café or in the great outdoors.

You no longer need to be plugged in.

Its all made possible by wifi… or wireless. Public wifi hotspots are already popping up everywhere.

But just how safe is your computer connection? Inside Out East investigates.

Hot spots

Cambridge Matrix are one of several companies setting up wifi Hot spots - places where you can come and log onto the Internet with your laptop.

Rend Shakir from Cambridge Matrix explains the phenomena:

"You're seeing hotspots appear everywhere - bars hotels cafes...

"What this is a compatible spot where people can access the Internet without wires - this will revolutionise the way we work and set a new standard in convenience and speed."

The technology is moving fast.

Matrix want to provide a way of joining up all the hot spots so you'll be able to use your laptop anywhere, even whilst on the move, just like a mobile phone.

This involves public wifi points.

Hacking dangers

Thousands of us are also getting wifi installed at home, but there's a real danger that most people are completely unaware of -
wifi hackers

Phil Robinson and computer
Any time, anywhere, any place - computer wifi

It's an issue that Information Risk Management (IRM) are keen to raise awareness on.

They advise business and domestic users on computer security.

Phil Robinson from the company took Inside Out to the Cambridgeshire village of Brampton where quite a few people have home wifi.

Amy Burt is one of them. She works from home with her wifi connection and agreed to let us show here what could happen if her system was left unsecured or unencrypted.

From outside in the street Phil was able to access her computer, change documents she'd saved and tell her what she had been surfing on the Internet - including her home banking site.

Amy's reaction: "That is scary. I will be looking into updating my security."

Secure systems

Not having your system secure is as good as leaving your front door wide open for burglars.

And there are already people out there trying to get in.

Computer
Do you know who is hacking into your computer system?

They're called war drivers.

They'll even leave marks for each-other at good spots called war-marks.

Some do it for fun, some to use someone else's Internet access for free - but a third group are using it for hi tech criminal activity.

By using someone else's connection, to view child porn for example, the perpetrator is untraceable.

Just a few months ago UK police secured their first conviction for war-driving - the man was accessing porn through someone's wifi, totally unbeknown to the computer's owner.

Unprotected homes

Inside Out went war-driving in Cambridge to find out how easy it would be to find unprotected homes.

WIFI SECURITY TIPS


Advice from Phil Robinson at IRM on securing your wifi:

* Disable the broadcast of the SSID on the access point.

* Find the MAC addresses for the clients (laptops etc) that are to use the access point (e.g. ipconfig /all in Windows) and put these in the client.

* Access Control List in the access point's configuration.

* At the very least implement WEP with a reasonable key strength (e.g. 10 characters, or 26 HEX Bytes) - this will deter casual attempts to identify wireless networks. However, WEP has cryptographic weaknesses that given certain timescales and traffic on the network will permit a motivated intruder to gain unauthorised access to the network, therefore ...

"Where possible implement stronger security on the access point such as WPA1 or WPA2, again with a reasonable key (over eight characters in length and a combination of mixed-case alphabetic characters and numbers/other symbols).

"The key should NOT be a standard English word that would appear in any dictionary."

Using a laptop and software that is easily available, in around an hour we found hundreds of wifi systems - and a shocking 50% were totally unprotected.

Phil Robinson explains that when you buy a system it usually has the security disabled by default - so many people are simply unaware it's a problem.

He advises getting specialist advice to turn the security on and get the latest encryption software.

Even more shocking was that many users had used their home addresses and names to label their systems.

We could easily view these from our laptop. We were able to tell exactly which houses had unsecure connections.

Our news came as quite a shock to one resident.

We told her that her computer was totally accessible to drive-by hackers, that anyone could come and use her Internet connection for free and that 50% of wifi users in the area were in the same situation.

Phil was then able to give her some much needed advice and we carried on our investigation at the very centre of Cambridgeshire's hi- tech district.

Business fears

Inside Out expected that businesses using wifi in the East of England would be secure as a matter of course.

Our snapshot survey conducted over the course of an hour even surprised our expert, Phil.

They showed 20-25% of wifi business users are unprotected.

And until we take some simple steps, the virtual burglars could be snooping round your neighbourhood.

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Victorian gadgets

Gadgets
Glorious gadgets from the Victorian period

Maurice Collins is an avid collector of strange Victorian gadgets.

He shows Sadie Nine a selection of them, including a skirt lifter and hat machine.

One hundred and fifty of his pieces are on display at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery until March 19, 2006.

Inside Out goes inside Collins' weird world of gadgets.

Eccentric contraptions

Maurice Collins lives in a slightly surreal world surrounded by all his eccentric contraptions.

He’s the world authority on strange devices, in particular, antique gadgets.

Maurice has even written two books about the items that were designed to make life a little easier, for people living over 100 or more years ago.

"I’ve just bought this item; it’s a match holder and striker, a cigar cutter and also a bell! And this is a skirt lifter…" Maurice explains as he persuades Sadie to demonstrate how it works.

Maurice has been collecting these strange items for more than 30 years.

He started off when his son was small, wondering around Victorian rubbish dumps looking for the ultimate antique lemonade bottle:

"When I got the bottle, I began to look at other things. There were other bottles that were painted and the concept of items being sold across the shop counter in that period began to fascinate me.

"I looked around and found a Victorian knife cleaner, a lemon squeezer, all very, very peculiar…"

Weird world

Maurice is intrigued by the look of the items he collects. He likes objects that look very sculptural, are mechanical and also a little bit weird.

He’s not even sure what some items are, so spends his time doing research at the Patent Office to try to identify them.

Tea dispenser
Time for tea - a tea dispenser from the collection

Sometimes he has bought things that turn out to be totally different to what he thought they were.

Maurice’s collection is made up of time saving devices with a twist:

"The pride of my collection is a teasmaid. To work it you set the alarm.

"The alarm goes off - it pushes a lever, which pushes a lever, which pushes another lever - causing a match to strike some sandpaper which then lights the heater and then boils the water. When it’s boiled, it pours into the teapot..!"

He has hundreds of contraptions in his north London home, which make it feel a bit like an antique parlour.

Many of his best items have now been lent out to museums.

Practical gadgets

However not all of Maurice’s prized possessions are completely eccentric.

Bletchley Park Museum in Milton Keynes boasts some of his more practical gadgets such as a mangle and one of the first ever food processors.

But collectors who have it all still want more; something very, very rare and very, very strange.

Memo clock
Beat the clock - a practical memo clock

Maurice talks of a "machine that tattooed deserters in 1810, with the letter ‘D’ on their forehead" that he would like to own.

Quite by surprise he hears news that suggests this machine has shown up… somewhere in Portobello Market.

Maurice doesn’t know which stall has the item but he knows his way around.

Maurice could easily be way-laid by lots of curious items and strange knick knacks that Portobello Market is famous for, but there is still no sign of the rare ‘Deserter Tattooing’ machine… until he suddenly gets a tip off.

A specialist who deals in antique scientific instruments says he’s got one of them.

Maurice tracks the machine down and sees a demonstration on how it works. It costs £2,800.

So, for now, Maurice says: "I think I’ll have to start saving up my pennies..."

Photo credit: the images in this feature are taken from Maurice Collins' books Ingenious Gadgets and Eccentric Contraptions.

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Wartime film maker

Otto's grave
War grave that hides a Hollywood story

The war dead at Scottow in Norfolk fought and died on British soil.

You'd expect all the men who lie here to be English soldiers, but they're not.

A grave marked O.W. Kanturek hides a mystery - he was neither English nor a soldier.

His grave has the words - 20th Century Fox Films Ltd - carved on the stone.

Not the sort of thing you usually see on a military grave stone in the middle of Norfolk.

So just who was O.W. Kanturek who died in 1941?

Movie mystery

It would appear that he worked for one of the biggest movie companies in the world.

This grave at the end of RAF Coltishall's runway was a mystery until Inside Out did some investigating.

Our story starts in 1941.

Britain had been at war with Germany for two years, and RAF Coltishall was right in the thick of the war effort.

Planes were landing and taking off night and day, laden with bombs.

But they weren't just carrying bombs - they were also carrying cameras.

This is where our mystery man comes in. O.W. Kanturek - the man buried in a Norfolk war grave.

That would explain the 20th Century Fox carved in the stone.

Renowned film maker

Otto Walter Kanturek

Born 1897 in Czechoslovakia.

Credits as a cinematographer include:

Night Train to Munich (1940)
Shipyard Sally (1939)
Girl in the News (1940)
Pagliacci (1936)
Blossom Time (1934)

Camera operator on A Yank in the RAF (1941).

Directorial work:

The Student's Romance - a musical (1935)
In the Little House Below Emausy (1933)

Died 1941 in Norfolk, England.

Otto Walter Kanturek was one of the most renowned film makers of his time.

A Czech citizen, he made feature films in Germany and Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s.

Sixty years on, we've managed to track down one of his former colleagues - Otto's camera operator, 97-year-old Bryan Langley.

"Otto was a wonderful filmmaker... he was a great friend of mine," recalls Bryan.

But just what was he doing in the middle of the war rather than making movies at Pinewood studios:

"Otto was here making a film… with another filmmaker Jack Parry.

"It was the final shots for a movie called a Yank in the RAF." David Wade. Aeroplane archaeologist.

In films of the 1940s good aerial photography was rare.

Otto was chosen to film the last shots of the movie, using his skills as an experienced cameraman.

Realistic camera work

The idea was that two Hurricane planes would swoop past Otto's plane.

Jack Parry and Otto would take it in turns to film the Hurricanes.

Just before midday on the 26 June, 1941, Jack Parry, Otto Kanturek and their pilot clambered into the jeep and made their way to the runway at RAF Coltishall.

There they would board their plane for what they all thought would be a routine flight.

The two film makers didn't even anticipate being that long.

They were to get these shots in the can and then get to the set of another movie in production - a movie called One of Our Aeroplanes is Missing.

But sadly this would be their last ever flight.

During the flight one of the Hurricanes collided with the camera plane.

The pilot of the Hurricane ejected, but everyone in the other plane was killed.

Tracking the past

More than 60 years later one man has pieced together what happened.

David Wade
Putting together the pieces - David Wade

David Wade is an aeroplane archaeologist, and he's been analysing what went wrong:

"Well, it's likely that the Hurricane got too close to the other plane... even to this day you can find pieces of the wreckage.

David has managed to find parts of the very camera Otto was holding when he died:

"It's hard to believe that these are parts of the camera... I've got his lens tube - and this plate says Mitchell Cameras Los Angeles."

Camera operator Bryan still remembers Otto as a great man:

"If it wasn't for Otto, I wouldn't have been a Director of Photography for many years. He helped me with my career... a wonderful man".

Maybe Otto never received the recognition he deserved, the accolades or awards.

But in this cinematographer's movie repertoire, it seemed he set up his final shot... as if he wanted his story to be told.

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