Working Man e.g March 2014 - Page 6

Airborne Computer aaa Virus Unleashed!

By: Eyal Schuller

Researchers at the University of Liverpool made a great discovery this month, they created something that had been never seen before and that has surprised all scientists in the entire world. They found out that for the first time in all history, Wi-Fi networks can be infected by a virus that can move and spread very quickly, this was something that scientist thought that could not be done and that was something impossible. This virus is even compared to the common cold between humans and to other human sicknesses; this is because this computer virus is airborne, it is not like old viruses that where infected through emails or downloads from the internet or other types of packages. This virus just needs a Wi-Fi network Access Point to be near and it infects it very quickly.

The University simulated an attack with this virus, called “Chameleon”, they found out that the virus not only spread quickly, but it was also able to avoid detection and to identify the points where the Wi-Fi access was least protected by passwords and different encryption methods. This is something incredible for a virus because it doesn’t infect secure networks so it doesn’t get infected and also, it is not discovered because is not in the computer or the internet, it is only on the network, where most of the detection systems don’t look for.

Researchers from the University’s school of Computer Science simulated an attack on Belfast and on London, they found out that “Chameleon” behaved like biological viruses and that where airborne. It traveled across different Wi-Fi networks via their Access Points. At areas that where more densely populated and had more Wi-Fi networks, the virus spread more quickly, especially when the Access Points are only within a 10-50 meter radius.

Alan Marshal, professor of Network Security at Liverpool University, said:

"When "Chameleon" attacked an AP it didn't affect how it worked, but was able to collect and report the credentials of all other Wi-Fi users who connected to it. The virus then sought out other Wi-Fi APs that it could connect to and infect."

Also, it was able to avoid detection easily because detection systems only look for viruses when they are in a computer or on the Internet, but “Chameleon” was only at the Wi-Fi Network, so it was not detected. When the virus detected that an Access Point was strongly encrypted or very protected, the virus only moved to other Access Point that wasn’t that protected so it avoided the good protected Access Points. Some of the Access Points that were most affected, where the ones in public places that have no password like in airports, coffee shops, and other businesses like that.

Prof. Alan Marshal also said in a ScienceBlog report: "Wi-Fi connections are increasingly a target for computer hackers because of well-documented security vulnerabilities, which make it difficult to detect and defend against a virus.”

"It was assumed, however, that it wasn't possible to develop a virus that could attack Wi-Fi networks but we demonstrated that this is possible and that it can spread quickly. We are now able to use the data generated from this study to develop a new technique to identify when an attack is likely."

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