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August 11, 2014

How a smart collar can hack into vulnerable Wi-Fi networks

Cat identifies four routers using broken encryption and another four that had no encryption at all.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

A smart cat collar has detected security failings in dozens of vulnerable Wi-Fi networks that can be accessed with ease.

At this year’s Def Con 22 Hacking Conference in Las Vegas, Gene Bransfield, a security engineer at Tenacity Solutions, explained how he fitted a cat with a digital collar that carries a Spark Core computer chip running on custom-coded firmware.

"The collar contained a GPS device and a cellular component and would track your cats movements throughout the neighbourhood," Bransfield explained on the Def Con website.

Bransfield dubbed the experiment ‘WarKitteh’, a method that involves scouring multiple networks to see how secure they are.

He first tested his $100 collar on a Siamese cat named Coco. After three hours of roaming the neighbourhood, the cat returned with information that revealed four Wi-Fi routers had no security encryption, while another four were using an outdated security system.

Bransfield also told Wired that the concept came to him after he came across a special cat collar with a cellular component and a GPS device that tracked the cat’s movements.

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"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."

He added that he hopes the experiment will increase the public’s awareness about Wi-Fi security and inform people they should secure their Internet networks.

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