back to article Beware WarKitteh, the connected cat that sniffs your Wi-Fi privates

An inventive security researcher has successfully tested a war-driving kitty collar – so its wearer can prowl around the neighborhood exposing the lamentable state of Wi-Fi security. WarKitteh collar Wardriving cat couture. Credit: Gene Bransfield Gene Bransfield, a security researcher with Tenacity, told El Reg that while …

  1. Tom 35

    Wide open?

    The local cable monopoly Rogers uses crappy* cisco routers that provide both a secure(ish) and a wide open guest network that requires you to open a browser and enter a password to get any place. Of course that makes your traffic open to sniffing too.

    *The two people I know that have them have to reboot them a few times a week.

    1. Decade
      Terminator

      Re: Wide open?

      The open guest network is not that bad. Presumably the owner would not be using the guest network, because that's tedious. And guests aren't normally an everyday occurrence. You'd pretty much have to lie in wait, biding your time, until a guest comes and enters the password. If it's traffic you want, it's much more efficient to go to the nearest coffee shop.

      Much more fun are the crappy Cisco routers where the supposedly "secure" network is vulnerable to the Reaver attack.

    2. Arthur 1

      Re: Wide open?

      I know those modems. The guest network is fine and not actually open. A lot of hotspots appear open but use other authentication these days so WarKitteh is likely to be deceptive in stats. Generally Wi-Fi is reasonably likely to be secure when I've looked around lately, we're far from the heyday of wardriving. Usually if you want to crack a network Reaver is your only option, and most WPS schemes have protection built in against it now anyway.

      An aside, those modems aren't Cisco. Most Rogers hardware is from Hitron. The current "state of the art" modem they're pushing everyone to is a Hitron CGN3.

  2. Denarius Silver badge
    Go

    cue the oblig

    catty remarks...

  3. Scroticus Canis
    Unhappy

    Re: "reboot them a few times a week" - Luxury, sheer luxury

    The BT Home Hub 3 I am lumbered with reboots itself "randomly" or drops the ADSL connection before re-establishing it at a lower speed on a daily basis (only occasional periods of 4 day connectivity). It's really bloody annoying when halfway through a secure transaction. Strangely started to happen after BT pushed the new firmware onto it back in March and that was done while I was busy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "reboot them a few times a week" - Luxury, sheer luxury

      Since you're feeling lumbered, I feel I should point out you can use your own router (depending on what services you use from BT). Just put the username on a 3rd party router as bthomehub@btbroadband.com, leave the password blank.

      I'm lumbered with a BT Internet connection, but I refuse to be lumbered with their "I'll resell the pipes you're paying for to BTFon users" router.

    2. Captain Underpants

      Re: "reboot them a few times a week" - Luxury, sheer luxury

      Not the first time BT's firmware wizards have buggered up firmware, there was a longstanding issue on one of the two revisions of the Home Hub 2 where an upload of more than a specific not-very-large-amount-of-data (of the order of a few MB, IIRC) would cause the damn thing to reboot. I ended up with 3 of the things, because they screwed up the first replacement and gave me a second buggered unit. (Details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_Home_Hub, if you're interested).

      If it's happening regularly, get onto their support folks. They probably won't want to, but stick to the "your product is stopping me using the service I pay for" line and they should eventually give in...

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Meh

    Wifi Open at the in-laws

    Even while sitting 3-4 meters away, the signal was so crap, I was loosing connection every 10 minutes or so. So I doubt there is anyone outside the house, and outside the perimeter fence that can even tell there is an AP in use. If they could see the AP, I doubt the return signal would be received by the AP. It's a big old house.

    Curious though, lots of the neighbors cats frequent the yard!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Greencat

    Next step...

    Turn the kitties into a free wireless mesh network. Goodness knows there are enough around here.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Next step...

      I don't know why he didn't use the cat's built-in radio equipment.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

    not even more cat videos filling up the interwebs!

    Cats are not my friends at the moment. One has taken a fancy to sitting on the petrol tank of my Motorcycle in the sun. Said tank is black so it gets very warm. Apart from the scratches, the beast has decided to mark the bike as hers. Cat spray stinks to high heaven.

    Even pressure washing the bike fails to remove all the traces of the smell.

    Perhaps the 'collar' could be be modded to strangle the wearer if they go to certain GPS locations?

    Before the cat lovers get angry I've done nothing to the cat.

    The 'owner' just laughed. Perhaps I should spray her (the owner) instead of the cat?

    1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

      For some kitties, you can mix water and vinegar in a bottle and squirt it on them. Be sure to squirt a place they can lick, otherwise you'll be smelling vinegar for a while. Once you squirt the cat, he will spend a few moments cleaning the vinegar off his fur. For some cats, a few squirts of this and they will learn.

      But some cats don't respond to this. What worked for me was one of those devices that emit a high-pitched noise that hurts a dog's ears. Well, it hurts a cat's ears too. If the cat isn't deaf (older cats tend to go deaf) then a couple of quick zaps with these devices will do the trick. If this isn't your cat, you will want to try this first, because your neighbor might smell vinegar squirted on a cat.

    2. Fibbles

      Re: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

      Just bill the owner for repairs. Their animal, their responsibility.

      If they refuse to pay up they can look forward to paying for repairs plus your fees in the small claims court.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

        Yeah, all the best with that one.

        Because the first question you will be asked is "what have YOU done to stop the cat from doing what cats do naturally"??

      2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        @Fibbles Re: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

        There are no remedies in law holding the owner of a cat responsible for the actions of their pet. Cats are exempt from the laws governing animal trespass. They can also look at the king.

        Speaking as the owner of two cats, your best solution is a good soaking with a hose. One of those spray fittings works best.

        I'd also suggest putting a cover on the bike. It's a reasonable thing to do anyway. Keeps the bird shit off.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: @Fibbles Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

          You know what to do:

          How to stop cats pissing on your car, The best cat video ever! - Craig Turner

          There are videos on how to terminally get rid of cats; this is not one of them.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

      If 'she' is spraying your bike 'she' is almost certainly He, most females don't spray.

      Just to eliminate one potential cure to stop cats spraying your bike or anything else; A friend of mine in the UK wanted to stop a local tomcat from digging up his bedding plants and replacing them with lovingly crafted cat turds, while shopping to replace lost plants in the local garden centre he discovered pellets that were derived from or contained tiger shit. The idea obviously being that a tiger is somewhat further up the ladder of catkind than a local moggy, the said moggy however had clearly not been watching the Nature Channel and had no idea what had produced the new smell on HIS gardens so he sprayed and replaced bedding plants even more.

      Or maybe he had been watching and knew there were no tigers in South East London.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

        Not being a cat owner, I don't know if is it spray or pee. All I know is that is smells somthing rotten.

        The tiger poo derrived pellets look rather interesting.

        Taking the owner to court is problematic. They are the owners of the freehold of my home. I'm the leaseholder. I think the deterrent method is the way forward.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      I've always be tempted..

      ... to spray noisy bikers especially when they stop outside my house and leave beer bottles and cans all around...

    5. speedbird007
      Happy

      Re: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

      The best way to remove cat spray is to use biological detergent in the cleaning water. Cleaning the patch not the kitty, obviously. Cat lover who resents tom cats marking their territory near the house.

  8. Identity

    I'm surprised

    someone would let a Siamese wander the neighborhood. In my experience, they're quite subject to catnapping...

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Cats and the Interwebs...

    The first mistake was teaching them to use a camcorder to make the vids.

    The second mistake was teaching them to use a browser so they can upload the vids.

    Now we're seeing the third mistake... we're teaching them to seek out un-locked down WiFi units.

    In a few months, they'll own 90% of the Interwebs and Google won't return any useful human links only cat links.

    We're doomed I tell you!!! Doomed!!!!

  10. skeptical i
    Holmes

    I note the piccie was taken with the accomplice's face not visible.

    Keeping the beastie anonymous(e) for future missions? This is not the cat you seek ....

    AC motorbike: perhaps if you precariously set a trayful of clattery things (pot lids, tin cans) on the seat and tank of the bike, the monster will upset them when she/he/it jumps on the bike and might get enough of the bejabbers scared out of it that the problem is solved. Not the most aesthetically appealing solution, but one of the more humane ones. Good luck!

  11. Hud Dunlap

    Should have used a dog

    Just walk the dog around the neighborhood. This way you can target the areas you want. Cats are too random.

  12. Bartholomew

    spy cat

    Still cheaper than the CIA's attempt at using cats to spy:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_Kitty

  13. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Happy

    This is what cats typically get up to:

    Mildly NSFW for some, maybe.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC179QpCS3I

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Unsecured"?

    How many of those networks not using Wifi encryption were unintentionally, or through lack of awareness, doing so? E.g., how many were not FON-type shares, or local businesses having a guest network intentionally open (whether secured with a captive portal or not)?

    Aren't we jumping to conclusions a bit too quickly?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Aren't we jumping to conclusions a bit too quickly?

      This is an Internet Forum - it's what we do.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Aren't we jumping to conclusions a bit too quickly?

        " This is an Internet Forum - it's what we do."

        Just add the crappy car analogy, a few digs at MS, and sprinkle with ad hominem attacks, and we have a full house!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    re: Beware WarKitteh, the connected cat that sniffs your Wi-Fi privates

    Is there a competition amounts Register journalists as to whom can come up with the most obscure article title.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: re: Beware WarKitteh, the connected cat that sniffs your Wi-Fi privates

      This is a country slightly to the west of continental Yurop. Of course there is.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stats?

    "Some unconfirmed estimates suggest cat-related content consumes as much as 15 per cent of internet traffic"

    I think that the wildly different content sought by searches for "Cat" and "Pussy" may be skewing the stats.

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: Stats?

      "I think that the wildly different content sought by searches for "Cat" and "Pussy" may be skewing the stats."

      That may be true, but search engine analytics would be able to differentiate between searches for "pussy" by detecting whether the search is run with the family-friendly filter on or off...

  17. Eljay

    Madness

    This situation is madness. Equipment vendors simply need to make WPA2 security the default on any home kit. Modern kit (iX, windows, whatever) is all trivial to set up so there is no excuse. It's about time we stopped trying to make the in- interested consumer try and work this stuff out. It's bad enough trying to get large enterprise to spend the time/money doing Wi-Fi properly let alone my gran.

    1. Jos

      Re: Madness

      Well, I set up my wifi with a guest account on open wifi a bunch of times when I had a party on, or when neighbours moved in/out and needed temporary access, just to have the average Joe/Jane not nagging me for passwords. I know. Lazy. I frankly don't care in those situations they are open to packet capturing, as I'm not their brother's keeper. Just don't do your banking on it if you are paranoid.

      My own WPA2 secured wifi also is set up for MAC filtering. So only "authorised" users can get on it. Unless of course a real savvy user comes along and breaks through the defenses, but then what chance would I have anyways? The MAC filtering was a remnant from when I had to use open wifi as some peripherals didn't play well with wep/wap (stupid printer, and a security camera (really!!) ).

      And cats are vermin, not cute and not funny, and think they are the boss. Like real bosses really.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What keeps cats away.....

    They don't like the smell of citrus- lemons and limes etc. So after you've finished your G&T take the lime or lemon slice and put it on the tank. They really don't like the smell. I haven't got a motorbike to protect but I leave the slices on the garden to stop the bastards shitting there ( why don't they seem to bury it these days?) and also around a small bush which they like to mark

  19. pixelgeek
    Go

    Luxury!

    In my day, we had to get at 4 o'clock in't morning, half an hour before we went t' bed. Reboot t' server AND give the wireless router a kick just to restart the bugger! Then, t' boss would stabb us to death with a floppy disk IF WE WERE LUCKY!

  20. Lamont Cranston

    What's the dollar bill for?

    Did he tuck it into the cat's collar?

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