WarKitteh: Cat Collar to Snoop on Wifi Networks

Feline-powered Wi-Fi reconnaissance

#Internet

Sat, Aug 9th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

With a collar equipped with a "Spark Core chip loaded with his custom-coded firmware, a Wi-Fi card, a tiny GPS module and a battery," security researcher Gene Bransfield's cat went around the neighbourhood collecting information on Wi-Fi networks.

Despite the title of his DefCon talk—”How To Weaponize Your Pets”–Bransfield admits WarKitteh doesn’t represent a substantial security threat. Rather, it’s the sort of goofy hack designed to entertain the con’s hacker audience. Still, he was surprised by just how many networks tracked by his data-collecting cat used WEP, a form of wireless encryption known for more than ten years to be easily broken. “My intent was not to show people where to get free Wi-Fi. I put some technology on a cat and let it roam around because the idea amused me,” says Bransfield, who works for the security consultancy Tenacity. “But the result of this cat research was that there were a lot more open and WEP-encrypted hot spots out there than there should be in 2014.”

In his DefCon talk, Bransfield plans to explain how anyone can replicate the WarKitteh collar to create their own Wifi-spying cat, a feat that’s only become easier in the past months as the collar’s Spark Core chip has become easier to program. Bransfield came up with the idea of feline-powered Wi-Fi reconnaissance when someone attending one of his security briefings showed him a GPS collar designed to let people locate their pets by sending a text message. “All it needed was a Wi-Fi sniffer,” he says. “I thought the idea was hilarious, and I decided to make it.”

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