Last Updated on August 1, 2021 by Calvin C.
What does a WiFi Pineapple do? A WiFi Pineapple is a small, powerful wireless device that is used by ethical hackers or network administrators to conduct penetration tests (pen tests) on WiFi networks.
Although there are clones and other variants of the device, the original WiFi Pineapple was released by Hak5 in 2008.
The name Pineapple was coined because although the device looks like a router, it usually has extra aerials that look like the pineapple crown (I agree with those who say it looks more like a spider)
Ethical hackers, or white hack hackers, use the device to audit WiFi networks and facilitate the closure of any security gaps.
Companies hire them to identify vulnerabilities in their networks so that they can be addressed by their IT team and this is called pentesting.
However, it’s not always that a WiFi Pineapple is used to to conduct pen tests because along the way, black hat hackers started using the device for cyberattacks on vulnerable WiFi networks.
Once hackers gain access to such networks, they can steal personal data, monitor the victim’s internet activity or introduce malware.
They can launch a man-in-the-middle attack to intercept all the traffic that is exchanged between your device and network servers.
- When a WiFi Pineapple is used for malicious attacks, it is called an evil twin.
How does WiFi Pineapple work?
A WiFi Pineapple is a simple device and the user doesn’t need impressive coding skills as the device does all the work.
The user interface is friendly and anyone can lay hands on one of the devices since it costs just $99.
In addition, it can run on a cheap Raspberry Pi instead of a more expensive laptop and uses Linux operating system.
Storage can be enhanced by using an SD card to make it permanent.
There is a PineAP suite that is freely downloadable and contains all the tools for reconnaissance, man-in-the-middle attacks, tracking, logging and reporting.
Pineapple attacks are common in area where there is public WiFi like coffee shops, airports, hotels and other open networks.
There are 2 ways in which a Pineapple attack is conducted:
1. Man-in-the-middle attack
A Pineapple launches a fake SSID (name of the WiFi network) that is similar to the network being monitored so as to confuse you.
If you don’t check carefully, you may fail to notice the fake SSID and end up connecting to the Pineapple.
Once connected, you can access the internet normally but, unless you check the settings, you won’t notice that you are connected to the wrong WiFi network.
This is called a man-in-the-middle attack (MitM) because the hacker sits between your device and network servers, thus can intercept all traffic being exchanged.
2. Evil portal
Once the hacker has successfully connected to your device in a MitM attack, you are taken to a fake website that is designed to capture your information.
Here you may end up entering personal data like email address, password, credit card information and other information required.
How to prevent a WiFi Pineapple attack
Like I highlighted earlier, it is best to prevent a Pineapple attack altogether.
To protect yourself when in a public network, read this comprehensive article I wrote on public WiFi protection.
These are some of the things you need to do:
Avoid public WiFi
If possible, don’t use public WiFi networks.
When you do, don’t visit sites where you have to enter personal details like credit card numbers or passwords.
Carry your own portabe WiFi hotspot if your ISP can provide one.
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.
- Our VPN of choice is NordVPN because it has all the essential security features.
- Strong encryption
- 24/7 support
- No logs policy
- Zero DNS leaks
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 68% off a 2-year plan
Any of the top VPNs we have reviewed gives you a peace of mind and you can select a tailored VPN based on your country or device.
Use an LTE Wireless network
This eliminates the need for public WiFi because you use mobile data instead of WiFi.
Turn off WiFi when not in use
This protects you from deauthentication attacks hence capturing of your WiFi network.
Protect your device by an antivirus
If an attacker breaks into your network and unleashes a malware attack, a security suite protects your device.
You need to use a reliable antivirus software to intercept malware before you lose your privacy.
A Pineapple attack can be prevented by making sure that you know how to protect yourself in a public WiFi network.
Remember that this attack occurs without your knowledge and the your device accesses the internet without any problems.
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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