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Are You Being Hacked by Your Neighbor’s Cat?

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Yes, you read that title right. If your WiFi isn’t protected, you can be hacked by the furry little creature that wanders around your backyard when you’re not home. Coco, a Siamese cat from Washington, D.C., was able to discover dozens of weak or unprotected WiFi networks in his neighborhood with his high-tech collar.

This spectacular display of feline espionage was a humorous experiment by his owner’s granddaughter’s husband, Gene Bransfield. The security researcher built what he calls a “WarKitteh” collar. It’s basically a collar that he outfitted with his own personally coded firmware, a WiFi card, and a little GPS module. WarKitteh was able to track the networks around the neighborhood and discover which ones weren’t secure. Any amateur hacker would then be able to take advantage of these weaknesses with basic crypto-cracking tools.

The technique Bransfield used was originally thought up in the 1980s when hackers used “wardialing” to cycle through modems and find unprotected computers across the Internet. WiFi brought about “wardriving” which involved using a car antennae to find unprotected WiFi networks on-the-go.

Bransfield had originally tried to get his coworker’s tabby cat to take part in the experiment, but the cat wasn’t feeling adventurous, choosing instead to sleep on the porch all day. He then turned to Coco, who proved to be a much better spy than he could have ever hoped for. The crafty little kitty managed to reveal 23 hotspots, with over a third of them using WEP keys instead of the modern, and more secure, WPA encryption.

Despite the name of Bransfield’s presentation at DefCon (“How to Weaponize Your Pets”), Bransfield felt it necessary to explain that WarKitteh is not a “substantial security threat,” and that the experiment was mainly just for his own amusement. However, he was surprised by how many networks were using the outdated and insecure WEP key security standards. Bransfield hopes that his findings inspire people to upgrade away from insecure security measures and protect themselves a bit better.

Tektonic has a perfect solution for businesses looking to bolster the strength of their security, while remoting in from unsecure WiFi connections. A virtual private network, or a VPN, is like having your own private network that only you and authorized personnel can access. Outside threats, including your neighbor’s cats, will have to try a lot harder to access your network. Hackers will also have a lot more trouble gaining access to your network, making your online experience much safer.

If you think it’s time to upgrade away from your ancient, unsecured WiFi network, give Tektonic a call at (416) 256-9928. We’ll monitor your network and make sure that hackers (and dubious-looking cats) will keep their paws out of your business.

Date: August 15th, 2014, Author: Jorge Rojas

Toronto IT Support  /  Tektonic Blog  /  Security  /  Are You Being Hacked by Your Neighbor’s Cat?