Drone Helicopter Can Steal Wi-Fi, Launch Online Attacks
Researchers developed a prototype Wi-Fi stealing drone built from this off-the-shelf remote-controlled quadricopter.
CREDIT: Parrot S.A.
The hacking community is giving remote-controlled helicopters a serious makeover, changing them from beloved techy kids toys to flying Internet attackers.
Three security researchers from Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey have developed SkyNET, a stealth drone that can sniff out insecure Wi-Fi networks from the air and launch attacks against the computers connected to them, the security firm Sophos reported.
Their rogue prototype, which is not yet in flight, is built upon a Parrot AR.Drone quadricopter, which sells for less than $300 on Amazon, and is modified with a computer running Linux, a 3G mobile broadband data connection, a GPS receiver and two Wi-Fi cards. Altogether, the researchers said, the Wi-Fi-stealing drone cost less than $600 to build.
It can be operated by an iPhone or Android smartphone. Once in flight, SkyNET can show off its true devious hacking capabilities. Not only can it crack insecure home Wi-Fi networks , the researchers said, it can be triggered to act as part of a botnet, a network of compromised computers used to launch large-scale online attacks.
"The drones are programmed to scour an urban area and compromise wireless networks," researchers Theodore Reed, Sven Dietrich and Joseph Geis wrote in their paper, "SkyNET: a 3G-enabled mobile attack drone and stealth botmaster."
"Once compromised, the drone attacks the local hosts. When a host is compromised it joins both the Internet-facing botnet and the sun-facing SkyNET." From there, SkyNET cements its role in the attack process, as it's capable of launching attacks "without ever linking the botmaster to the botnet via the Internet."
Of course, while SkyNET is still a prototype and not yet in flight, similar drones have already proven to be dangerous hacking tools. One such drone, on display at this year's Black Hat Security Conference, is called Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform (WASP). It is capable of intercepting mobile phone calls and texts.
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