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Tuesday Watercooler


Tonight’s video is “Wizard’s Duel” from the Tim & Micah Project, an excerpt from the upcoming The Tim & Micah Project: PILOT.

Sad news for this lovelorn pug:

A gray tabby kitten in a box watches the camera warily.

Spy kitteh is watching you!

In a recent paper on “How to Weaponize Your Pets,” presented at the annual security conference DefCon, a clever hacker used a feline to highlight security holes in neighborhood WiFi networks. From Wired’s Threat Level:

Late last month, a Siamese cat named Coco went wandering in his suburban Washington, DC neighborhood. [… H]e’d been fitted with a collar created by Nancy’s granddaughter’s husband, security researcher Gene Bransfield. And Bransfield had built into that collar a Spark Core chip loaded with his custom-coded firmware, a Wi-Fi card, a tiny GPS module and a battery—everything necessary to map all the networks in the neighborhood that would be vulnerable to any intruder or Wi-Fi mooch with, at most, some simple crypto-cracking tools.

Despite the title of his DefCon talk—’How To Weaponize Your Pets’–Bransfield admits WarKitteh doesn’t represent a substantial security threat. Rather, it’s the sort of goofy hack designed to entertain the con’s hacker audience. Still, he was surprised by just how many networks tracked by his data-collecting cat used WEP, a form of wireless encryption known for more than ten years to be easily broken. ‘My intent was not to show people where to get free Wi-Fi. I put some technology on a cat and let it roam around because the idea amused me,’ says Bransfield, who works for the security consultancy Tenacity. ‘But 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.’

In his DefCon talk, Bransfield plans to explain how anyone can replicate the WarKitteh collar to create their own Wifi-spying cat, a feat that’s only become easier in the past months as the collar’s Spark Core chip has become easier to program. Bransfield came up with the idea of feline-powered Wi-Fi reconnaissance when someone attending one of his security briefings showed him a GPS collar designed to let people locate their pets by sending a text message. ‘All it needed was a Wi-Fi sniffer,’ he says. ‘I thought the idea was hilarious, and I decided to make it.’

Bonus: The Deadly Giant Anteater, via LiveScience

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Photo by Kit O’Connell released under a Creative Commons license.

P.S. Wendy the kitten and her sister Lucy are available for adoption, Austin, Texas firepups.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and