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Are computer hackers using pets to steal your personal info?


Are computer hackers using pets to steal your personal info?

By Joyce Lupiani. CREATED Aug 13, 2014

Computer hackers could have a new weapon in their arsenal: cats.

Security engineer and expert Gene Bransfield recently demonstrated how a cat wearing a special collar could help computer hackers obtain enough information to prey on unprotected computer users.

The high-tech collar is called the WarKitteh.

Bransfield says he came up with the idea while delivering presentations about computer security. He would often use funny photographs of cats during the presentations to make them more interesting. During one of those presentations, someone showed him a GPS collar designed to allow people to locate their pets by sending a text message. That is when he came up with the idea of putting a Wi-Fi sniffing device in a collar and started working on it.

After the collar was finished, he put it on his neighbor cat's neck and let the cat loose in a suburban Washington, D.C., neighborhood. During the cat's first venture, 23 unsecured Wi-Fi networks were discovered. Unsecured networks allow hackers to access individual's computers and steal their information.

The collar was created for Bransfield's own amusement and not meant for production or distribution, according to The WarKitteh collar began gaining national attention after Bransfield presented a talk titled "How To Weaponize Your Pets" at the DefCon hacker conference last week in Las Vegas. There are no known cases at this time of computer hackers using such devices to steal information.

Joyce Lupiani

Joyce Lupiani

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Joyce Lupiani, who is based in Las Vegas at KTNV-TV Channel 13, is a contributor to