Wi-Fi Hacking Cat Sniffs Out Insecure Networks

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By Usha Hari | August 27, 2014 1:45 PM EST

Animal warfare and strategic security role for cats and dogs are likely to grab the headlines in the days ahead. Cute cat videos and dog training videos are all likely to be passe. The Def Con Def Con hacking convention in Las Vegas highlighted the possibility of involving pets in computer security. In the conference, security researcher Gene Bransfield had put on display the War Kitteh cat collar, and demonstrated to the keen audience on how to turn their pets into a Wi-Fi spy.

Reuters
Kush the cat is seen in a cage at the local police station in DeLand, Florida in this handout picture from the DeLand Police Department

The project involved War Kitteh, the cat fitted with antennae and micro computers in its collar to roam the streets and to detect weak and Wi-Fi networks that used encryption algorithms like WEP. In a quick ramble the cat picked up as many as 23 weak Wi-Fi hotspots, four of which were completely open that had no password protection. 4 networks were found to be using WEP rather than the fool proof WPA-2 standard. The pet project , which was the brain child of Gene Bransfield, from Tenacity Solutions, has grabbed world wide media attention over its immense potential in hacking.

Bransfield told the Guardian that the project was intended to spark awareness about why people should take more care securing their Wi-Fi networks, in the hope that involving cats in the debate will make less tech-savvy people pay attention.

Bransfield's project involved a saddle-bag containing the WiFi Pineapple Mark V wireless network hacker tool and the TV-B-Gone kit, which was attached to the dog as it was walked along the streets during the World Cup season. The remote fixed to the dog's lead enable Bransfield to scan TVs being used in bars and switch them off! In the next phase , Bransfield is planning to use flying things for hacking though he has already dismissed the idea of a carrier pigeon for the mission because of its inability to carry the weight of the gadgets used. Drone-jamming war birds need not be something that is limited to Sci-Fi movies as the possibility of having such birds are already hovering in the horizon!

(Photo: Reuters / )
Kush the cat is seen in a cage at the local police station in DeLand, Florida in this handout picture from the DeLand Police Department
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