Cat Smart Collar Detects Vulnerable WiFi Networks

Cat used to detect vulnerable home wifi networks
The next time you see your neighbor’s cat walking along your fence line, there might be more going on than the annoyance of the cat coming into your yard. That cat could be checking your WiFi for vulnerabilities sent out by nefarious people who want access to your WiFi network. OK, that’s not likely going on, but security expert Gene Bransfield has shown that if someone wanted to do it, they could easily do so.

Bransfield demonstrated the possibility by fitting a borrowed cat from a relative with about $100 worth of electronic equipment onto the collar. The cat, Coco, then roamed the streets for three hours with the device hidden as a collar. In that short period of time, Coco managed to identify four WiFi routers which had no encryption at all, and another four using the outdated WEP encryption which could easily be accessed by anyone with a bit of know-how.

The self-made collar was customized with a Spark Core chip with firmware which Bransfield custom coded for the test, a GPS tracker, a WiFi card and a battery. He presented the results of his experiment at the Las Vegas DEF CON hacker conference. While he has no intention of personally using pets as a hacking tool, he has demonstrated how easily it can be done, and in a way that would likely not arouse any suspicion of what was going on. He also hopes that the inventive way of looking for insecure WiFI networks will raise public awareness on the importance of securing home WiFi networks.

As Bransfield notes, “My intent was not to show people where to get free WiFi. I put some technology on a cat and let it roam around because the idea amused me, but the result of this cat research was that there were a lot more open and WEP-encrypted hotspots out there than there should be in 2014. Cats are more interesting to people than information security. If people realize that a cat can pick up on their open WiFi hotspot, maybe that’s a good thing.”

Open WiFi networks or those with outdated encryption can give hackers access to the network to use for nefarious means, or to spy on what those on the network are doing to access information which can be used to do such things as steal  an identity. This should be a wake-up call to all those who have never considered an open WiFi network as a major threat to their person information.

(Photo courtesy of Joseph Sardin)

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10 Responses to Cat Smart Collar Detects Vulnerable WiFi Networks

  1. danny says:

    This is actually pretty genius if you think about it. Trying to find networks in a car can arouse a lot of suspicion, especially if the car isn’t known in the neighborhood and it’s driving slowly. Who would ever think of a cat doing this?

  2. christian says:

    How could something that cute be out there hacking networks? That’s just pure evil.

  3. Stan Kerns says:

    Similar–use a dog on a walk

  4. william says:

    So true. I’m now going to be suspicious of all dog walkers whose dogs stop to sniff near my house.

  5. clara says:

    I must admit I only clicked on this article because of how cure the kitten was in the photo, but I found it interesting. I’ll have to check with my husband to make sure our wifi is secure when he gets home since he’s the one who set it up.

  6. Perci says:

    Internet is so ubiquitous that it would be ashamed or hard to believe someone would want to go down a few blocks like a cat to sniff out and use free WIFI. Then go back every time there is a need to use it.

  7. DogRulez says:

    Bad idea. It’s bad enough irresponsible cat owners let them run loose to stray beyond their property.
    We don’t need more reasons for feral cats roaming the streets, making others private property their litter box.
    Keep your cat on your own property or while my dog sniffs out wifi on a leash I’ll have he piss on your door mat.

  8. Tee to lapeet says:

    I would imagine this only works when its your cat and then only where he/she normally roams. Unless there’s a way to train and release WiFi sniffing cats. An army of trained cats sounds both adorable and scary. Unleash the kitties! Oh the horror. The adorable horror.

  9. donde says:

    And, why, exactly, do they still make wifi routers that support WEP, then?

  10. Robert says:

    “It’s not likely to happen, but could.” Jeez… Well all the rednecks will have a new excuse for killing cats now. Way to go!He was stealing my wifi! LMAO! I can see some dipshit at 3 in the morning trying to get his cat to walk precisely down the right street so he can check his email as opposed to just paying his net bill! LMFAO!!! Common sense people! If the collars are really that capable of being so intrusive make the damn things illegal! America grows more stupid by the minute isn’t that right Dogrulz?

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