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Here's a Drone Scanning an Office Building for Printers to Hack

Researchers show how to steal documents from vulnerable devices.
Image: Budi Nusyirwan/Flickr

In this day and age, pretty much nothing is unhackable—not even office printers locked away at the top of a skyscraper.

A group of researchers has built a drone that, along with a smartphone and custom apps, can be used to automatically steal documents from printers with open WiFi connections. The goal of the project is to teach companies that printers can be an easy way in for hackers trying to steal data or get into their networks.


The researchers at iTrust, a research center at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, created two apps: one called Cybersecurity Patrol, which detects open WiFi printers and automatically alerts the company's IT department, and another one that automatically steals documents by mimicking the printer and tricking computers to send documents to it instead of the actual printer.

"This is the main point of the research, closing the physical gap with [a] drone in order to launch the attack or scan easily all the organization [for vulnerable devices]," Yuval Elovici, the head of iTrust, told Wired, which first reported on the project.

For the project, the group used a DJI drone and a Samsung smartphone, which they rooted to install a different operating system on it. The ideas is that companies can use the drone to make an easy and automated assessment of their security. The researchers also built a robot vacuum cleaner that can go around the office and do the same.

Maybe this is yet another sign that the robot hackers, or hackbots, are coming.

(Homepage image: Budi Nusyirwan/Flickr)