Researchers from the University of Liverpool have found a virus that spreads through wifi networks as a common cold spreads between humans.
The team developed an experimental virus, called Chameleon, and found that it travelled across the Wi-Fi network via Access Points (APs), which connect households and businesses to WiFi networks.
The virus was also able to avoid detection and recognise vulnerable WiFi APs.
Alan Marshall, a security professor at the university, said when Chameleon attacked an AP it was able to collect and report the credentials of all other WiFi users who connected to it.
"The virus then sought out other WiFi APs that it could connect to and infect," Marshall said.
"WiFi connections are increasingly a target for computer hackers because of well-documented security vulnerabilities, which make it difficult to detect and defend against a virus.
"It was assumed, however, that it wasn't possible to develop a virus that could attack WiFi networks but we demonstrated that this is possible and that it can spread quickly.
"We are now able to use the data generated from this study to develop a new technique to identify when an attack is likely."
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