Raspberry Pi Zero device can hack a computer in less than a minute

The £4 microcomputer can carry out a hack in seconds, even if it's locked

Despite complicated passwords and other security measures, PCs can still be vulnerable to hacking, even from a small device that costs under 5.

The so-called PoisonTap, developed by privacy and security researcher Samy Kamkar, is made out of a Rasperry Pi Zero microcomputer, which costs 4, and a common USB cable. When plugged into a computer, it can steal login details to websites in less than a minute.

The device hijacks the computer's internet traffic by giving it an IP address, easily stealing the users' login details for websites like Facebook or Gmail.

It prompts the computer to send requests from the web browser to websites to steel its cookies, which often contain login details of the person or people who generally use the browser.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

These details are then sent to the hacker through the PoisonTap, allowing them to access users' personal accounts.

After it has been unplugged, the PoisonTap still maintains backdoor and remote access to the computer.

It works on locked computers as well, if the user happens to have left web browsers open. This can be detrimental in work places, where employees might have left their computer unattended to participate in a meeting or take a break.

The device is ideal for such circumstances, as it needs under a minute to work (usually around 30 seconds), and can carry out the whole process without unlocking the PC.

Security analyst Graham Cluley told IT Pro: "I'm not sure this is a huge threat to the typical computer user, but that if an attacker gets physical access to your turned-on PC then we often find that all bets are off."

In a post presenting the device, its creator, Kamkar, said: "Closing your browser every time you walk away from your machine can work, but is entirely impractical."

Instead, he suggests using HTTPS exclusively, at least for authentication and authenticated content, as well as ensuring the Secure flag is enabled on cookies, and using HSTS to prevent HTTPS downgrade attacks.

Finally, he also provides some Desktop Security advice, such as adding cement to USB and Thunderbolt ports or disabling them entirely.

Featured Resources

The IT Pro guide to Windows 10 migration

Everything you need to know for a successful transition

Download now

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Software-defined storage for dummies

Control storage costs, eliminate storage bottlenecks and solve storage management challenges

Download now

6 best practices for escaping ransomware

A complete guide to tackling ransomware attacks

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/hardware/32939/raspberry-pi-opens-its-first-high-street-store-in-cambridge
Hardware

Raspberry Pi opens its first high street store in Cambridge

7 Feb 2019
Visit/mobile/32762/a-raspberry-pi-computer-gets-squeezed-inside-a-mouse
Mobile

A Raspberry Pi computer gets squeezed inside a mouse

16 Jan 2019
Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019
Visit/mobile/21862/raspberry-pi-top-projects-to-try-yourself
Mobile

Raspberry Pi: Top 37 projects to try yourself

16 Oct 2019

Most Popular

Visit/security/identity-and-access-management-iam/354289/44-million-microsoft-customers-found-using
identity and access management (IAM)

44 million Microsoft customers found using compromised passwords

6 Dec 2019
Visit/cloud/microsoft-azure/354230/microsoft-not-amazon-is-going-to-win-the-cloud-wars
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft, not Amazon, is going to win the cloud wars

30 Nov 2019
Visit/hardware/354237/five-signs-that-its-time-to-retire-it-kit
Sponsored

Five signs that it’s time to retire IT kit

29 Nov 2019
Visit/business/business-strategy/354195/where-modernisation-and-sustainability-meet-a-tale-of-two
Sponsored

Where modernisation and sustainability meet: A tale of two benefits

25 Nov 2019