Say hello to WarKitteh, a cat collar that sniffs out weakly encrypted and unprotected Wi-Fi networks

warkitteh cat collar detects weak wi fi encryption
Image Source:
If the Internet is made of cats, then hold onto your hats, ’cause those same felines might start breaking the Web soon if a device like the WarKitteh falls into the wrong hands.

Related: How to secure a wireless network

Gene Bransfield, Principle Security Researcher at Tenacity Solutions, an Internet security firm, was just messing around with his kitty, Coco. At one point, he decided to run a tech experiment, using Coco as his trusty assistant, Wired reports.

What is the WarKitteh?

With the help of Nancy, a relative of Gene’s, they put together a cat collar containing a Spark Core device, a Wi-Fi card, a GPS chip, custom firmware, and a battery to power the whole setup. This is how the WarKitteh, a cat collar that could detect Wi-Fi networks and identify what mode of encryption they used, was born.

Related: Best Internet speed tests

With the WarKitteh wrapped around Coco’s neck, Bransfield set the kitty loose on the neighborhood. Coco spent a total of three hours strutting around Bransfield’s area. In that short span of time, the collar detected eight Wi-Fi networks which either used WEP or no encryption at all. WEP is a form of encryption that hackers can easily break into, and hasn’t been rock-solid for years.

A skilled hacker with bad intentions could then take this information and crack into those networks virtually at will. Even worse for those concerned with Wi-Fi security, the WarKitteh was cheap for Bransfield to make. He spent less than $100 building the whole thing from start to finish.

“The result of this cat research was that there were a lot more open and WEP-encrypted hot spots out there than there should be in 2014,” Bransfield says.

Danger, kitty!

When Bransfield realized how many networks were employing WEP, he quickly realized that his exercise in self-amusement revealed a very serious problem with Wi-Fi sercurity. Lots of people are either ignorant or simply ignore the dangers associated with leaving their connections wide open like an uncovered tight end running down an NFL sideline.

Not all is lost, though

Bransfield plans to speak at the DefCon hacker conference, which is taking place now, and runs up until August 10. During his talk, he plans to show off the WarKitteh and shed a light on the sorry state of public awareness with respect to Wi-Fi encryption. He hopes that more people will start to take it seriously, and frankly, so do we.

“Cats are more interesting to people than information security,” Bransfield says. “If people realize that a cat can pick up on their open Wi-Fi hotspot, maybe that’s a good thing.”

One can only hope. While you’re at it, feel free to check out our guide on how to secure a wireless network. You never known when a Wi-Fi snooping furball just might be trotting by your door.


Best deals on smart locks so you’ll never have to worry about unlocked doors

Is your front door locked? We found the best deals on smart home door locks that take the worry out of wondering if your home is secure. You can lock or unlock your doors remotely and some models let you control locks with voice commands.
Smart Home

Porch pirate problems? Keep them away with these tips and tricks

The holiday season is fast approaching and the packages are arriving on our doorsteps. Are you worried about porch pirates stealing your gifts this holiday season? Here are some tips to help protect your purchases.

Best deals on home security cameras to save you from package thieves

Home security camera systems can help keep your home and your family safe. Amazon's deals on Blink security cameras and Ring Video Doorbells also help you save money on devices you can access regardless of your current location.
Movies & TV

The best Christmas TV episodes and specials

To help get you in the spirit of the season, we've compiled a list of the best Christmas TV episodes and specials. Whether it's free episodes on your favorite streaming service, or stop-motion classics, look no further.

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.

Qualcomm’s dual-screen PC concept looks like two connected Surface Go tablets

In Qualcomm's video teaser, we got a glimpse of the company's vision for how a dual-screen ARM PC should work. The internet reacted to Qualcomm's video, calling the device in question merely a mashup of two Surface Go tablets.

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.

Hololens 2 could give the Always Connected PC a new, ‘aggressive’ form

Microsoft is said to be leaning on Qualcomm to power its Hololens 2 headset. Instead of Intel CPUs, the next Hololens could use a Snapdragon 850 processor, allowing it to benefit from the always-connected features.

Chrome’s dark mode may cast its shadow over Macs by early 2019

By early 2019 Google may release a version of Chrome for Mac users that offers a Dark Mode feature to match MacOS Mojave's recent darkening.

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.