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Researchers create simulation virus that spreads via WiFi

The virus, named Chameleon, searches for weaknesses within WiFi networks and infects them before automatically seeking other vulnerable access points.

Image: John Dakers/Eye Ubiquitous/PA Images

A computer virus that can be spread via WiFi has been developed by researchers in the University of Liverpool.

According to the BBC, the virus searches for WiFi access points – which transmits the WiFi signal and can be found in many homes – which hadn’t their admin password changed.

This admin password is different from the one used to log on to the network itself, and is usually left unchanged from the default setting.

Once an access point is under the virus’ control, any devices connected up to are left vulnerable as a hacker can install firmware and steal data from it.

As soon as the virus, named Chameleon, was installed on one access point, it would automatically seek out other vulnerable access points, and take them over when they’re found.

Homes and small premises like coffee shops that use WiFi would be at most risk as they usually don’t have stringent protection measures in place.

The team’s lead researcher, Professor Alan Marshall, told the BBC it was working on software that could be installed in WiFi access points to prevent such attacks from happening.

The team didn’t reveal the details about the method used in case it would be used on real victims, but said a proof-of-concept attack had been developed at the university.

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Quinton O'Reilly

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