05 Aug 2011

Remote-controlled plane can spy on wireless networks

For about $6,000, computer security experts Richard Perkins and Mike Tassey built a remote-controlled plane that can infiltrate wireless networks and eavesdrop on cell phone calls, The New York Times reports.

The plane, called the Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform, or WASP, commanded attention at this week’s Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, according to the news source. Perkins and Tassey constructed the WASP using off-the-shelf hobby store materials and implanted a computer in its fuselage. It has a maximum cruising altitude of 400 feet and runs very quietly to remain undetected while it intrudes on wireless networks in buildings below.

Not only can the WASP hack a wireless network and collect user information, it can act as a cell phone tower to listen in on calls and read text messages, The Times reports.

Perkins and Tassey told The Times they have no plans to sell the plane, and built it to raise network security awareness.

Government organizations such as the National Security Agency scouted this year’s Black Hat conference for computer security pros to join their payrolls. Perkins and Tassey both work for the government, according to The Times.