(Photo: Gene Bransfield)
Pictured above is Coco, a cat and a computer hacker. She probably doesn't know about that last part. Gene Bransfield, a computer security expert, outfitted her with a collar that mapped Wi-Fi networks as she roamed her neighborhood. Andy Greenberg of Wired describes how it works:
And Bransfield had built into that collar a Spark Core chip loaded with his custom-coded firmware, a Wi-Fi card, a tiny GPS module and a battery—everything necessary to map all the networks in the neighborhood that would be vulnerable to any intruder or Wi-Fi mooch with, at most, some simple crypto-cracking tools.
This is similar to the practice of "wardriving"--driving around in a car, searching for unprotected Wi-Fi networks. Coco does the same thing on four feet with the help of Bransfield's "WarKitteh" collar, which cost him just $100 to build. He will give a presentation about it at DefCon, a convention about computer hacking and security. The purpose of his presentation, which he entitled "How to Weaponize Your Pets," is to demonstrate how vulnerable Wi-Fi networks are:
In his DefCon talk, Bransfield plans to explain how anyone can replicate the WarKitteh collar to create their own Wifi-spying cat, a feat that’s only become easier in the past months as the collar’s Spark Core chip has become easier to program. Bransfield came up with the idea of feline-powered Wi-Fi reconnaissance when someone attending one of his security briefings showed him a GPS collar designed to let people locate their pets by sending a text message. “All it needed was a Wi-Fi sniffer,” he says. “I thought the idea was hilarious, and I decided to make it.”
-via Nag on the Lake