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SkyNET robo-hacker  (Source: cnet.com)
The DIY air drones break into Wi-Fi networks and control computers remotely -- all for only $600

Computer security has certainly become a popular topic this year due to the string of high-profile hacks conducted by groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec. The CIA, Sony, NATO and different police departments throughout the U.S. are just a few examples of government and corporate hacks executed throughout 2011.

Now, researchers from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey have created an inexpensive, do-it-yourself air drone that is the "holy grail" of hacking.

The flying drone, dubbed SkyNET, is capable of breaching Wi-Fi networks and controlling computers remotely. It is a modified $300 Parrot quadcopter with a GPS unit, a 3G card, two Wi-Fi cards and a Linux computer.

The drone is capable of flying over any urban area in search of Wi-Fi networks through the control of a botmaster using 3G. Upon finding these Wi-Fi networks, they break in and attack any computers that can be compromised by collecting information over the course of a couple of flights. This information is then sent to a cloud computing service like Amazon EC2 to crack the WEP and WAP wireless security codes. Hackers can then control the computers through the Wi-Fi "drone-to-host connection" remotely.

These zombie computers can then be used to launch attacks via their Internet connections, and hackers benefit because there are no traceable ties to the hacker botmaster. Reverse engineering the botnet does not reveal the identity of the botmaster.

"Here I am at the park flying the drone as a toy and people are [gathered] around me, or the drone, and they are moving within the range of its attacking capabilities," said Sven Dietrich, a computer scientist at the Stevens Institute of Technology, who helped create the botnets.

The drones can trick a smartphone into connecting to it by pretending it's a user's home or office network that the phone is automatically configured to seek.

Another added benefit for the hacker? The DIY project only costs $600.




"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer









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