Researchers from Liverpool have revealed to online news providers that they have created a virus capable of spreading through Wi-Fi connections, comparing it to the common cold.
The comparison was made as the virus, named Chameleon, is programmed to spread between networks; it exposes system weaknesses in densely populated areas that have many Wi-Fi connections, making computers registered to affected networks extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Alan Marshall, professor of communication networks at the University of Liverpool, has said that:
“Rather than rely on people to use strong passwords, you want to integrate intrusion detection systems to the access points.”
The virus is designed to find wireless access points from devices emitting Wi-Fi that have specifically not changed their admin password. Once hackers have gained access to them, they are free to install firmware, enabling them to search for – and steal – sensitive information such as passwords.
However, what differentiates the Chameleon virus to others is the fact that, even without human regulation, it automatically seeks out other local Wi-Fi networks, accessing and taking control of them as well.
Professor Marshall clarified that the virus should not be a problem for large businesses, as they should already have strong security measures implemented. Smaller networks such as those used in coffee shops and the home are less secure and, as a result, more susceptible to the threat. Marshall also confirmed that his team was in the process of developing software to prevent attacks caused by these types of viruses being effective.