Disable or detect wireless network, bluetooth and 3G cards...

Posted on 2009-05-12
Last Modified: 2012-06-27

During this year's exams students here are allowed to use their own computers when writing.  They are also allowed to store any information relevant to the subject on their drives.  However any form of communication (between computers and from outside sources) is strictly prohibited.

Relevant modes of illegal communications might be:

Wireless network
Internal 3G mobile cards
IrDA (low risk)

I have tried to find out if Windows has a 'soft spot' common for the above networking modes, which could easily be disabled programmatically.  However this does not seem to be possible.  (If anyone here has other information, please pop in).  The second best solution would be to have a small applet running monitioring any network activity.  Once network activity is discovered, a colored alert window pops up on top of the current window, attraction the attention of the exam surveillance staff.  It would be relatively easy to have all students manually deactivate their wireless and bluetooth cards and have the above applet monitor if they get activated again.

I'm interested in tips on how to avoid any non-cable communication occur to/from a computer in this situation.  The small monitoring applet mentioned above should display a small stamp-size window in the lower right corner of the screen when running (to proof it is actually running), and an attention-attraction colored window when an illegal situation is detected.  The visual part is no problem, but I need help and tips on how to properly monitor or detect the above mentioned communication modes on Windows XP and Vista.

Thanks a lot for creative comments and tips on this topic.

best regards

Question by:geir056
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Expert Comment

Comment Utility
Cell phone and cdma card use can be detected with external products like

They are pretty embarrassing when they go off. But are you going to mandate turning off all cell phones?

Wifi and Bluetooth are trickier, using netstumbler with an obvious directional antenna might get the student's attention.

MAC Address XXXX.XXXXX.XXXX turn off your wifi.

There are somewhat more expensive wifi prevention products that cater to the security fields.

Bluetooth, I know how to do this in linux, no idea about windows.

I imagine the day that we surround our testing halls with layers of chicken wire is not that far away.

Author Comment

Comment Utility
Thanks for the comments.

However, I hoped that there is some networking object(s) within windows which might be available programmatically for an applet to poll continusly and signal when communication becomes active.  

rgds Geir
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Expert Comment

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Ah, something that runs on each user's pc?

Essentially you need to pull the pc route table and make sure that they only have a route to the network, or more generally the operating status of all network interfaces.

There are netsh commands in xp and vista that do this and I imagine that there is a higher level api that can detect this connectivity.

The route table monitoring will stop any external network connectivity, unless you students know how to connect using alternave protocols.  Bluetooth can transmit data using the ibex command set used for contact lists and such without ip configurtion.

The problem with watching the interfaces is that each pc and interface will have a different named interface based on brand, number of interfaces what have you.

Sadly I am not much of a programmer though, so maybe someone else can help.

Accepted Solution

geir056 earned 0 total points
Comment Utility
As there apparently isn't a universal solution to this, I made a small application displaying the colored status (red/green) of each network interface as a wide line just above the taskbar.  Then the exam guards could easily watch if any students fired up a network connection (sections of the green line became red).

I'll try to close this question with this explanation.

Thanks for the contributions.



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