It’s called Chameleon—a computer virus—but maybe it should be called FrankenVirus. You wouldn’t believe what it can do: literally move through the air, as in airborne—like a biological pathogen.
And like some Franken-creation, it came from a laboratory, cultivated at the University of Liverpool’s School of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and Electronics.
Chameleon leaps from one WiFi access point to another. And the more access points that are concentrated in a given area (think of them almost like receptor sites), the more this virus gets to hop around and spread infection.
The scientists behind this creation have discovered that the more dense a population, the more relevant is the connectivity between devices, as opposed to how easy it was for the virus to get into access points.
Access points are inherently vulnerable, and Chameleon had no problem locating weak visible access points from wherever it was at, and it also avoided detection.
“When Chameleon attacked an AP it didn’t affect how it worked, but was able to collect and report the credentials of all other WiFi users who connected to it,” explains Professor Alan Marshall in an article on Forbes.com. He added that this malware pursued
other WiFi APs to connect to and infiltrate.
The scientists made this virus subsist only on the network—a realm where anti-virus and anti-malware systems typically do not scavenge for invaders. Protective software seeks out viruses on your device or online. Thus, Chameleon earns its name.
Think of this virus like the burglar who goes from house to house overnight, jiggling doorknobs to see which one is unlocked. WiFi connections are like unlocked doors, or locked doors with rudimentary locks.
Chameleon’s creators have come up with a virus that can attack WiFi networks and spread its evil fast. The researchers now want to come up with a way to tell when a network is at imminent risk.