The Newest Threat to Privacy May Be Hovering Overhead

Hackers have created a drone that can trick your smartphone into thinking it’s connected with a trusted network.

Thieves are seemingly everywhere these days – even flying above your head. Hackers have developed a drone capable of stealing private information from your smartphone, including usernames and passwords, credit card information and your GPS location.

According to CNN Money, ethical hackers developed the drone to expose security weaknesses at risk of being exploited by potential hackers. The drone, nicknamed Snoopy, intercepts Wi-Fi signals from smartphones looking to find a network connection.

“Their phone will very noisily be shouting out the name of every network it’s ever connected to,” Sensepost security researcher Glenn Wilkinson said. “They’ll be shouting out, ‘Starbucks, are you there?… McDonald’s free Wi-Fi, are you there?”

The Snoopy drone tricks your phone into thinking it’s connecting to a trusted network it has used in the past. In reality, the drone will intercept everything you send or receive on your phone, like passwords and credit card information.

Sensepoint is presenting its drone findings next week at the Black Hat Asia conference in Singapore.

In the meantime, you can take one easy step to keep your personal information private. Turn off your Wi-Fi settings unless you’re connected to a home, work or public network.

Stacy Johnson

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  • Sander

    You cannot be serious. I own a few of these drones and they are relatively loud when they fly overhead. So you will notice if a drone is hovering above you. Especially, as you have to pretty close to your phone to pick up a wifi signal as the range on a phone is relatively small. The idea of a toy drone hovering around to intercept wifi signals and steal somehow your information is ludicrous. Why would someone use a drone to do this while they can simply walk around and do the same thing? Btw, these drones are battery operated and cannot stay in the air for longer than 10, maybe 15 minutes so what is the point? Maybe thinking a bit more thoroughly would be wise before you post something with a fear mongering title like this.

    • Old Highland Guy

      An electric drone is relativly quiet and would be very difficult to hear especially if there is any other noise around you at the time; cars driving by, lawn sprinklers running, an airplane flying overhead, music playing, etc., etc., etc. Also, I have experimented with wifi and can pickup any wifi in the area for about 1/2 mile, that’s over 2000 feet. Walking around to steal wifi signals is a lot of work and a drone would make it easier. Sander, you are just a bit off base.

      • Sander

        Like I said, I own a few of these ‘electric drones’ myself. It doesn’t make sense. You hear these things when they are above you. My point is, you probably can do this in theory but it is pointless as you can do this any other way (I assume you could take your wifi sniffer and sit in a mall e.g.). A drone flies 15 minute tops so I guess you are right if you want to sniff out wifi in a location where only a drone could come, but what is the point? Trying to steal someone’s wifi information in the woods? On a mountain? Besides, most of the drones are operated with a remote controller operating on 2.4ghz…oh wait…that is the same frequency as wifi operates….good luck with the interference. Anyway, it’s sad that people just post fear mongering articles about ‘drones’ fueling the unfounded argument that drones will ‘steal’ your privacy, especially if they have no experience or knowledge on the topic.

  • cybrarian_ca

    Better still, don’t use mobile devices for sensitive tasks. I’m an IT professional, & I won’t. I use my hardwired desktop, thanks.

  • senior3citizen

    This is why I stay away from “gadgets”. You never know who is snooping!!!!!

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