This tech may enable Wi-Fi Evil Twin attacks from 1km away

  • Surveillance vendors attending the Milipol homeland security conference in Paris late November said the only truly effective way to get access to end-to-end encrypted messages, such as WhatsApp and Signal messages, is to install malware on targets’ smartphones.
  • They say one of the best ways to do that is to force targets to join rogue Wi-Fi hotspots before delivering trojans or phishing pages.
  • Almenta, a firm based in Bulgaria, but whose operators, including CEO Ari Covitz, are Israeli, are offering packages to deliver payloads on Android and iOS devices, promising “data extraction” for Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and Skype messages. They also offer phishing services. Almenta claimed it’s possible to do all this from up to 500 meters away with as many as 50 concurrent targets.
  • Two sources claimed Almenta’s Wi-Fi tech wasn’t its own but that of others from the Israeli surveillance scene. They claimed the range of the Wi-Fi attacks could extend to 1km with powerful amplifiers. One of the sources said the cost for such tech starts at USD 1 million, rising to around USD 3 million.
  • Almenta chief Ari Covitz didn’t respond to questions from Forbes about the technology’s capabilities.
  • Nicholas Weaver of Berkeley, wasn’t impressed with what Almenta advertised. “Really, this is a surveillance vendor taking some off-the-shelf tools, combining it with a directional antenna, slapping some [graphical user interface] on it, and probably selling it for way, way, way, way too much money,” he said.
  • “Now 500 meters… I would like to see that configuration when targeting a cell phone in the real world,” added Drew Porter, founder of cybersecurity firm Red Mesa.
  • Weaver recommended any users concerned about such attacks to only join Wi-Fi networks with strong passwords. “If the Wi-Fi password doesn’t look like a cat skittered across the keyboard, it isn’t strong enough,” he warned.

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