Researchers at the University of Liverpool’s School of Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Computer Science have designed and simulated an ‘attack’ by an ‘airborne’ virus on Belfast and London in a lab setting and found that the virus can move as efficiently as the common cold! Chameleon’ can not only spread quickly, but it was also able to cleverly avoid any detection.
To begin with, the Chameleon detects a list of inadequately secured access points. Then it attempts to bypass any encryption security and the administrative interface on the access point and stores the system settings. After replacing the original firmware of the access point with the virus loaded firmware it reloads the previously saved system settings and finally takes full control of the access point. In this way, it was able to collect sensitive data like user credentials by keeping track on the network traffic.
However, perhaps the most ‘deadly’ of its abilities is the fact that it could seek out other vulnerable access points in close vicinity, spot potential targets and carry out attack without any human input. “In a densely populated area with lots of Wi-Fi networks the virus spreads like a contagious disease like common cold.” revealed the team. The design and simulation was intended to obtain a proof of concept and create relevant software to fend off such threats in future.