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WarKitteh: A Cat Collar for Hacking Neighborhood Wi-Fi

This year’s DEF CON hacker convention in Las Vegas will feature a special kitty-themed device: The WarKitteh, a special cat collar that can sniff out your unsecured Wi-Fi. Put the collar on your mobile feline of choice, and it will help you locate unsecured wireless connections in your neighborhood. Free Wi-Fi anybody?

The WarKitteh is the brainchild of security researcher Gene Bransfield, who knows that cats are the most interesting things on the Internet. During his Schoocon Firesides presentation, Bransfield admitted to using cat photos to keep people awake. After all, 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic is dedicated to cats.

“Cats are more interesting to people than information security,” Bransfield told Wired. “If people realize that a cat can pick up on their open Wi-Fi hotspot, maybe that’s a good thing.”

Coco, a siamese cat in Washington D.C., was able to help Bransfeld located 23 unsecured, hackable wireless hotspots using WEP encryption dating back to 1999, rather than more secured, WPA secured protocol. WPA superceded WEP and became the preferred security standard for Wi-Fi in 2003 — over a decade ago.

Open access networks and those using WEP are at-risk for hackers and hacker cats, though Coco has no intentions of  waging a Wi-Fi war against your data anytime soon. ”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,” said Bransfield who added, “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.”

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 cats 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 Wi-Fi sniffing device and you’d have a War Kitteh.” I attended another conference and someone brought their dog. The dog was loaded down with a doggie backpack containing Wi-Fi hotspots. They called it a Wi-Fi Service Dog. I observed that if you loaded the backpack with different equipment (e.g. a Pineapple) you could create a Denial of Service Dog.

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