While Amazon is planning to make deliveries via drones in the near future, hackers have found a way to steal private credentials from a user’s smartphone via similar drones. These drones can steal any kind of data like passwords, login IDs with the help of a new research project called Snoopy.
The makers of Snoopy have already experimented the technology with drones in some areas of London and they will present their final research at the Black Hat Cybersecurity Conference to be held at Singapore next week. Snoopy makes use of a common behavior of smartphones, i.e. to search for past Wi-Fi networks to connect to the internet.
Generally, when a user gets out of his home network, he doesn’t switch off his Wi-Fi. So, the smartphone will constantly search for known Wi-Fi networks to which it can connect. Such constant search for Wi-Fi helps snoopy collect data from these unsuspecting users.
Snoopy looks out for smartphones which are searching for related Wi-Fi networks and imitates them. So, if a user’s smartphone is searching for different networks like McDonald’s Free Wi-Fi or Starbucks Wi-Fi, Snoopy will host a similar network. The smartphone won’t recognize the difference between the two and even without the user’s permission will connect to Snoopy.
Once connected, Snoopy intercepts the data that is sent and received by the smartphone. Using this connection, hackers can then steal the user’s private information such as login IDs, passwords, numbers etc.
While hackers are always trying to get private data via different means, this is the first time; someone is using a drone to collect such information. The advantage of drones is that it can practically go anywhere it wants and hence, can even target select users. According to CNN, Snoopy managed to collect network names and GPS co-ordinates of over 150 smartphones within half an hour. This clearly shows how dangerous such technology can be in the wrong hands.
However, Snoopy makers are not looking to hack such innocent users. In fact, they have developed this technology to showcase the possible uses of drones to intercept user data. It could be used for law enforcement purposes too, like to collect information of a set of criminals or people during a riot.
Also, there is a way to avoid such snooping. Users can switch off Wi-Fi when they get out of their homes, which will make sure their data is safe.
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