New drone technology that can steal the contents of your smartphone is being presented at next week’s Black Hat Asia cybersecurity conference in Singapore, reports CNN.com.
The “Snoopy” drone can access mobile devices with Wi-Fi settings turned on, taking advantage of a built-in feature on smartphones and tablets that looks for previous networks when a device tries to connect to the Internet.
Snoopy will send back a fake signal disguised as a trusted network and intercept everything being sent and received including sites visited, credit card information, location data, usernames and passwords.
“Their phone will very noisily be shouting out the name of every network it’s ever connected to,” Sensepost security researcher Glenn Wilkinson told CNN. “They’ll be shouting out, ‘Starbucks, are you there?…McDonald’s Free Wi-Fi, are you there?’”
Snoopy is currently being tested in London, reports CNN:
CNNMoney took Snoopy out for a spin in London on a Saturday afternoon in March and Wilkinson was able to show us what he believed to be the homes of several people who had walked underneath the drone. In less than an hour of flying, he obtained network names and GPS coordinates for about 150 mobile devices.
He was also able to obtain usernames and passwords for Amazon, PayPal and Yahoo (YAHOF) accounts created for the purposes of our reporting so that we could verify the claims without stealing from passersby.
While the collection of metadata (network names and device IDs) is not illegal, intercepting personal data with the intent of using it would likely violate wiretapping and identity theft laws, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Since drones are out of sight, they can easily track people unnoticed. Users can protect themselves by shutting off Wi-Fi connections and forcing their devices to ask before they join networks.
The Sensepost researchers said the technology is meant to raise awareness of the vulnerabilities of smart devices. Wilkinson calls himself an “ethical hacker.”
CNN points out that besides being creepy, a Snoopy equipped drone could also be used for law enforcement and public safety: “During a riot, a drone could fly overhead and identify looters, for example.”