How Wi-Fi Spy Drones Snooped On Financial Firm

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: Modified off-the-shelf drones have been found carrying wireless network-intrusion kit in a very unlikely place. Greg Linares, a security researcher, recently recounted an incident that he said occurred over the summer at a US East Coast financial firm focused on private investment. He told The Register that he was not involved directly with the investigation but interacted with those involved as part of his work in the finance sector. In a Twitter thread, Linares said the hacking incident was discovered when the financial firm spotted unusual activity on its internal Atlassian Confluence page that originated from within the company’s network.

The company’s security team responded and found that the user whose MAC address was used to gain partial access to the company Wi-Fi network was also logged in at home several miles away. That is to say, the user was active off-site but someone within Wi-Fi range of the building was trying to wirelessly use that user’s MAC address, which is a red flag. The team then took steps to trace the Wi-Fi signal and used a Fluke system to identify the Wi-Fi device. “This led the team to the roof, where a ‘modified DJI Matrice 600′ and a ‘modified DJI Phantom’ series were discovered,” Linares explained. The Phantom drone was in fine condition and had a modified Wi-Fi Pineapple device, used for network penetration testing, according to Linares. The Matrice drone was carrying a case that contained a Raspberry Pi, several batteries, a GPD mini laptop, a 4G modem, and another Wi-Fi device. It had landed near the building’s heating and ventilation system and appeared to be damaged but still operable. “During their investigation, they determined that the DJI Phantom drone had originally been used a few days prior to intercept a worker’s credentials and Wi-Fi,” Linares said. “This data was later hard coded into the tools that were deployed with the Matrice.”

According to Linares, the tools on the drones were used to target the company’s internal Confluence page in order to reach other internal devices using the credentials stored there. The attack, he said, had limited success and is the third cyberattack involving a drone he’s seen over the past two years. “The attackers specifically targeted a limited access network, used by both a third-party and internally, that was not secure due to recent changes at the company (e.g. restructuring/rebranding, new building, new building lease, new network setup or a combination of any of these scenarios),” Linares told The Register. “This is the reason why this temporary network unfortunately had limited access in order to login (credentials + MAC security). The attackers were using the attack in order to access an internal IT confluence server that contained other credentials for accessing other resources and storing IT procedures.” […] While the identity of the attacker has not been disclosed, Linares believes those responsible did their homework. “This was definitely a threat actor who likely did internal reconnaissance for several weeks, had physical proximity to the target environment, had a proper budget and knew their physical security limitations,” he said.