Background of a WiFi Pineapple?
What does a WiFi Pineapple do? A WiFi Pineapple is a small, powerful device that is used as a hotspot honeypot (or an evil twin). It allows bad guys to hack a WiFi network and steal your data, snoop on your internet activity or compromise online accounts.
Although there are clones and other variants, the original WiFi Pineapple was released by Hak5 in 2008.
The name Pineapple was coined because although the device looks like a router, it has extra aerials that look like the pineapple crown (the jury is still out there on that one)
It is a tool that enables hackers to launch a man-in-the-middle attack and compromise your security. Once a WiFi Pineapple connects to your network, the hacker gains admin privileges and further causes havoc.
It’s not always that a WiFi Pineapple is used to to launch malicious attacks. Ethical hackers use the device to audit WiFi networks and facilitate the closure of any security gaps.
This is called a penetration test (pen test) and by identifying how a hacker can capitalize on network vulnerabilities, it’s easier to address them.
When Hak5 originally invented WiFi Pineapple, this was the original intention. In this case it is also called a honeypot.
Along the way blackhat hackers started using the device for unscrupulous activities like introducing malware in the system.
Man-in-the-middle attack (MiTM)
The unfortunate bit about a MiTM is that it can happen without you detecting any anomaly.
The attacker slips into your WiFi network using a WiFi Pineapple and secretly intercepts data between 2 parties. The data is relayed between these 2 parties and to you the normal user, it appears like a normal direct connection.
A WiFi Pineapple doesn’t need impressive coding skills as the device does all the heavy-lifting. It is also cheap so anyone can lay hands on one of the devices.
The hacker can launch an attack over a wide area and the device comes with all the tools to crack passwords.
When a WiFi Pineapple is used for malicious attacks, it is called an evil twin or pineapple sandwich.
How does WiFi Pineapple work?
A Pineapple takes advantage of a security flaw that exists in a WiFi network. You may find it convenient to automatically connect to your home or work WiFi network but actually there is a security vulnerability that exists in that feature.
When used by hackers, the Pineapple launches a fake SSID (service set identifier) that carries the same name as the network being monitored.
You device can’t tell which one is a real or fake SSID and that’s how it connects to a Pineapple.
This fake SSID doesn’t interfere with your internet activities and unless you check the settings, you won’t notice that Pineapple has been activated.
That way, the Pineapple manages to extract your passphrase or parts of it. Subsequently, the hacker can use software integrated in the Pineapple to crack your password and gain access.
This device sits between your device and your WiFi network, intercepting any data that is transmitted back and forth.
Even if you change location, the hacker still maintains access to your device because Pineapple is controlled over the internet.
That is why it’s of utmost importance to prevent it from getting attached to your network in the first place. It’s easier to prevent the attack than deal with an active attack.
One of the ways in which a Pineapple attack occurs is by mounting a deauthentication attack. This disconnects your device from your WiFi network and involves the following:
Evil twin access point
A deauthentication attack disconnects your device from your network. This forces your device to make a connection to an evil twin access point and the network is captured.
Another way to mount an Pineapple attack is to get your password after initially mounting a deauthentication attack. When a re-connection takes place, the Pineaaple eavesdrops and captures the WPA 4-way handshake.
This happens in a WPA or WPA2 WiFi network. Once the handshake sequence is sniffed out, the hacker launches a dictionary-based, brute force attack to crack the password.
In some cases after the deauthentication, the hacker mounts a man-in-the-middle attck to collect passwords and other personal details.
How to prevent a Pineapple attack
Like I highlighted earlier, it is best to prevent a Pineapple attack altogether. There are several ways to do that and I have outlined them below:
Avoid public WiFi
The least you can do is avoid visiting sites where you have to enter personal details like credit card numbers or passwords.
Use a password manager
If you can remember your password by head, it’s most likely a weak password. Don’t be fooled by a password strength bar that appears when you are creating a password.
Nowadays, you need a highly complex password and fortunately there are free tools that can do that for you. NordPass password generator is cloud based and takes care of all your passwords.
It uses strong encryption to make sure no hacker cracks your password. On top of that there is a free version!
Start using a reliable VPN
A VPN creates a VPN tunnel that encrypts all your traffic when you are connected to WiFi network. This adds an extra layer of security and a hacker cannot see the data you send or receive.
The good thing about a VPN is that even if there is a Pineapple attack, your traffic is encrypted.
Any of the top VPNs we have reviewed gives you a peace of mind.
Use an LTE Wireless network
This eliminates the use of a WiFi Pineapple because you use wireless data instead of WiFi.
Turn off WiFi when not in use
This protects you from deauthentication attacks hence capturing of your WiFi network.
Next time someone asks “What does a Wifi Pineapple do?”, you now have all the answers. You understand its uses and what you need to do if confronted with a Pineapple attack.
Remember that this attack occurs behind the curtains and the hacker can steal your identity without your knowledge.
Have a peace of mind and implement all of the above preventive measures. Make it a habit to ensure all your traffic is encrypted by a VPN when you go online.
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