Robot 'guard dog' sniffs out Wi-Fi holes

Tuesday, 5 August 2003, 1:43 PM EST

A strange two-wheeled creature was skimming through the halls of the Alexis Park Hotel on Sunday -- a robot that sniffs out network vulnerabilities.

Created by two members of a loose association of security experts called the Shmoo Group, the robot is designed to wheel around on its own detecting and reporting the security problems of Wi-Fi wireless networks.

"The point of the hacker robot is that it can become an autonomous hacker droid," said Paul Holman, the robot's co-designer, who demonstrated it for the first time at the DefCon hacker convention here. "It can get in close to the network. On the offensive side, it can be used for corporate or political espionage. On the defensive side, it can be used for network vulnerability assessment."

The prototype robot, which has not been named, may be the first creature designed for this purpose. Holman and hardware engineer Eric Johanson hope to sell custom versions of the unit to government agencies and businesses that are worried about the security of their own wireless networks or that hope to break into someone else's. Holman and Johanson have not yet set a price.

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