Ten great discoveries: A Wi-Fi virus that spreads like a cold

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For National Science and Engineering Week, we are celebrating 10 great scientific advances made at the University of Liverpool. Over the 10 days of the event, we will be highlighting a different advance each day to show what science can achieve.

Our eighth advance and the most recent in the series is the creation of a software virus which can spread over Wi-Fi networks.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have shown for the first time that Wi-Fi networks can be infected with a virus that can move through densely populated areas as efficiently as the common cold spreads between humans.

The team designed and simulated an attack by a virus, called Chameleon, and found that not only could it spread quickly between homes and businesses, but it was able to avoid detection and identify the points at which WiFi access is least protected by encryption and passwords.

Alan Marshall, Professor of Network Security at the University, said: "Wi-Fi 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, that it wasn’t possible to develop a virus that could attack Wi-Fi 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."

To see the other nine great advances, visit the University’s news pages during National Science and Engineering Week (14-23 March).

If you want to find out more about current research in this area at the University of Liverpool, visit the  School of Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Computer Science website, or go to our study pages to find out more about studying computer science.

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