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Companion cats weaponizing for parents’ security

Kitties should not be used in Wi-Fi break-ins!
Kitties should not be used in Wi-Fi break-ins!
Patch File

Cats are back in the news but this time with a story that will blow your mind. Greg Hambrick initially reported this story in the Fairfax City Patch about a particular kitty donning a Wi-Fi searching collar that was able to ‘sniff out’ free Wi-Fi in the Washington D.C. suburbs.

Animals are amazing creatures and, given just a hint of discretion, they are able to do some really amazing tasks for us! Such is the story with Coco the Siamese cat that recently worked with Virginia-based security researcher, Tenacity Solutions.

In order to gather the required data, Coco took a stroll to seek out vulnerable Wi-Fi connections. The exercise was harmless, but could prove quite useful if needed. The unfortunate issue is if the technology got into the wrong hands; the general public would be a sure target indeed!

Gene Bransfield is a Principle Security Engineer for Tenacity, a Reston firm. He researched and shared the results of the cat experiment at the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas during a presentation taking place there. The presentation was entitled “Weaponizing Your Pets.”

The initial experiment was only one of merriment for the security researcher, but he did gather some really useful knowledge that the public can really use! To state the quote he gave Wired Magazine, “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. 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.”

Mr. Bransfield is well educated in this matter. He gained a Masters Degree in Information Security and Assurance from George Mason University per his biography posted on the DefCon website. His experience proves this matter to be something everyone should consider.

The article in the Fairfax City Patch also stipulated this quote by Bransfield, “After delivering a presentation wherein I used many images of cats for humor value, an audience member offered to lend me their cat tracking collar. The collar contained a GPS device and a cellular component and would track your cat’s movements throughout the neighborhood. If you got nervous, you could send the device an SMS message to receive a current GPS hit on the collar’s location. Me being the guy I am, I thought, ‘All you need now is a WiFi sniffing device and you’d have a War Kitteh.’”

While techies are able to see the humor in this, the information is useful to ordinary people and can be downright useful to someone looking for something bad to get into. Everyone needs to realize that while certain devices are useful in many situations, it does not, in any way, shape or form give them free will to hack into peoples’ personal data.

Please don’t send kitty out to obtain free Wi-Fi for your personal pleasure!

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