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FCC Wi-Fi Boost Streamlines Networking, But Could Airborne Wi-Fi Virus Slow It Down?

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Mon, Jun 02, 2014 at 9:55AM

In March, the Federal Communications Committee voted to allow an extra 100MHz for Wi-Fi devices in the 5GHz part of the spectrum, and to get rid of indoor-only limitations on devices. Essentially, this will allow for better connection speeds for users, especially in crowded areas.

It’s good news for PC, smartphone and tablet users everywhere - but another development in the world of Wi-Fi is a bit more unsettling: an airborne network virus.

Alright, “airborne” is a bit misleading. While routers can’t exactly catch the virus through touch or close contact, homes and businesses can catch it through each other’s wireless access points. University of Liverpool proved this by simulating a virtual attack on Belfast and London, and found that the fake virus - named Chameleon, in this experiment - could travel from one AP to the other and “infect” networks.

Urban areas with many homes and businesses (and thus, more APs) would be infected quicker than less populated places. Chameleon wouldn’t change how a computer worked, but would allow other network users to see its credentials. It wasn’t detected by virus-protection software because it was solely on the network, not the computer itself, and would mostly affect unprotected networks (like those found in cafes or airports).

While it comes as startling news, researchers are confident that knowing the possibility of a Wi-Fi virus will better practices to detect it should a real one come along.

For more information on Chameleon, visit

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