Automation Concepts & Technologies Blog

Are Drones Hacking your WiFi?


Today we’ll be discussing a type of cyberattack that not many people have heard of, which involves using a drone to spoof the connection between a computer and a wireless printer. Many organizations today use wireless laptops and tablets, so using a wireless printer is the perfect way to share a printer.

However, most wireless printer connections were designed with home users in mind, so they are unencrypted and therefore unsecure. As a result, attackers can take advantage of this to intercept sensitive documents being sent to a printer, as originally reported by researchers Jinghui Toh, Hatib Muhammad, and their Professor Yuval Elovici from iTrust, a Center for Research in Cyber Security at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

This is how it works: an attacker will fly a drone to be within proximity of a building with a wireless printer. Attached to this drone is an Android smartphone running an app that scans for nearby open printer wi-fi networks. Once it finds one, it will broadcast a wi-fi signal whose network has the same name as the printer – this is referred to as a Man-in-the-Middle attack.

This identical wi-fi network will trick the employee’s computer into sending print jobs to the phone attached to the drone, instead of the printer. From there, the phone will take the print job and convert it into a document, then send it to the attacker’s cloud storage such as a Dropbox account. To complete the illusion that nothing is wrong, the phone will then send the print job back to the original printer, so the employee does not notice they printed to the wrong device.

Drone Article In blog image

Image courtesy of iTrust Centre for Research in Cyber Security - Singapore University of Technology and Design

So how can you defend your organization against such a crafty attack? And would an attacker really go out of their way to target your organization specifically?

In this age of large corporations having top of the line cybersecurity, many attackers are turning towards smaller and medium businesses as their targets, who may have less stringent protocols in place. They will assess their targets and choose whatever attack vectors will get them the best access to your data. Sometimes, this may involve going to the trouble of programming a phone to spoof wireless printers and physically flying it to your office building. The monetary benefits they stand to gain far outweigh the cost of preparing the attack.

Because this attack relies on the unsecure nature of direct wi-fi printing, there is little that can be done to prevent such an attack from occurring while employees are printing this way. If you are concerned about wireless security, you should consult your IT provider. At Automation Concepts & Technologies we build secure wireless networks that can prevent these kinds of attacks. Of course, the one surefire way to prevent wireless printer spoofing is to not use the wireless printing built into the printer and instead implement wireless security.

With COVID-19 many employees today are working from home and handling sensitive information. As larger companies have taken steps to prevent data breaches smaller companies have been an easier and more profitable target for cyber-attacks. Give us a call, and we can help with a security audit so you can better understand your risks.



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Monday, September 21 2020

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