When Dan Tentler wants to find something on the internet, he doesn’t use Google or Bing. Tentler, a freelance security consultant, is a road-less-traveled kind of guy. He likes to check out the internet’s alleyways and backroads. And for people like him him, there’s only one search engine. It’s called Shodan.
Google has done a masterful job of indexing the human experience — the webpages, books, Word documents, and images and videos that make up our life. But Shodan looks for something simpler. It’s looking for all the stuff that’s connected to the internet, from routers and refrigerators to live webcams that give you a glimpse inside people’s homes to, well, who knows what.
These odd little devices, overlooked by Google and Bing, are the things that Tentler finds interesting. Using Shodan, he’s taken a tour of a Scottish country house, explored a stationary GPS receiver in Alaska, and even examined the control panel for a swimming pool. “It’s like looking at a street or a set of the buildings, but not from the front,” he says. “Not from where their marketing department wants you to see it. But from where the shipping and receiving department uses it.”