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Researchers Show Off Homemade Spy Drone at Black Hat

By Computerworld

August 9, 2011

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Security researchers Mike Tassey and Richard Perkins recently unveiled the Wi-Fi Aerial Surveillance Platform (WASP), a remote controlled unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can crack Wi-Fi passwords and exploit weak wireless access points.

WASP is equipped with a small Linux-based computer running the Backtrack 4 suite of penetration testing tools. One of its systems is designed to collect telemetry data, which is sent to a ground-based station that uses the data for real-time tracking. The base station also acts as a network router, connecting other workstations to the plane. The researchers also installed a new Universal Software Radio Peripheral, which enables the UAV to mimic a GSM cell phone tower. The platform supports 4G networks and can receive and execute instructions delivered over the Internet from anywhere in the world.

Although UAVs are required by law to fly under 400 feet, the drone can fly as high as 22,000 feet, where it would be difficult to track using radar systems. The researchers built the drone to demonstrate how easy it would be for someone with basic engineering skills to develop a system that could be used for malicious purposes.

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