Researchers at the University of Waterloo have identified a drone surveillance threat called “Wi-Peep”. It sounds cute, but the potential damage it can do when you learn how it works is downright frightening.
How they hacked a house with WiFi Peeping drones
By simply adding a $20 WiFi probe component to any commercially available drone, you can accurately determine the position of WiFi devices inside a secure home or building.
$20 is all a smart crook needs
So yes, you are hearing me right. Researchers went and bought a cheap drone off the store shelves, and hacked it for less than $20 to turn into into a sophisticated surveillance tool. How do we know it actually poses a threat? The researchers showed it off at the 28th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking.
Password-protected wireless networks are at risk
Even on a password-protected network, Wi-Peep can sniff out and determine the position of smart devices without needing to connect to the wireless network. That means hackers armed with drones could locate high-value items or people in a secure home or building.
The terrifying result is shockingly less concerning than the bigger global problem. This exposes an inherent flaw in the way wireless networks work to create an easy entry point for someone evil enough to do major damage. The hope of the researchers is that vulnerable standard wireless protocols will change in the future to prevent this sort of security hazard at home.
It’s a burglars dream come true
Just think of how a not-so-dumb burglar would use this. Why spend mountains of time inside ransacking a house to find the valuables before the triggered alarm has police rolling up on the crime. Instead, you can case the house with a Wi-Peeping drone to essentially map the goodies inside and get a layout of where connected things are located before you break in.
See a smartphone and watch in one location charging. That’s likely the primary bedroom at night. How about a connected baby cam location? There’s an infant 20 feet up from the street in that room.
Drones you and I can buy are incredibly tiny and easy to get our hands on. Add this little terrifying Wi-Peep hack, and it’s a whole new game of invasive surveillance.
While software engineers work on strengthening your WiFi to keep threats like these out in the future, it is another reminder how important security has become. Take this time to check and make sure all of your devices have proper anti-virus protection. You can see the list of winners to see if you have one of the really good solutions here.
- How to find out who’s spying on you
- Dangerous spyware app lets strangers record you: Google warning
- How to detect an AirTag tracker spying on you