Power Pwn outlet strip doubles as stealth hacking tool

Look closely at that surge protector under your desk. It might be covertly spying on you and your network.

Normally if you find a rogue outlet strip, or a user happens to bring his or her own surge protector to use you might not think much of it. Thanks to a new device called the Power Pwn, though, it might soon be cause for concern.

A company called Pwnie Express is taking pre-orders for the device. According to the companys website, Pwnie Express specializes in innovative, rapid-deployment cyber security products for the IT security professional.

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The idea of a power source that doubles as hacking or penetration-testing toolkit isnt new to Pwnie Express. It also offers a smaller unit that simply plugs into an outlet. However, the Pwn Plug Mini may draw more attention than the Power Pwn, which by all outward appearances is simply a run-of-the-mill surge protector outlet strip.

A Power Pwn unit connected in your office would be a serious threat to your network and data security. The Power Pwn boasts integrated Wi-Fi, high-gain Bluetooth with a range of 1,000 feet, a 3G cellular connection, and dual Ethernet ports to provide an attacker with a variety of means of communicating with the device from inside the network or around the world.

The device is equipped to bypass NAC (Network Access Control) and other security measures designed to keep unauthorized devices off the network. It can tunnel through application-aware firewalls, maintain a persistent, covert, encrypted connection to the attacker, and operate in a stealth mode that is unpingable and has no listening ports to avoid detection.

With the device safely planted in a cubicle in your office, its owner has access to a wide variety of built-in tools. The Power Pwn is pre-loaded with Debian 6, Metasploit, Kismet, nmap, Aircrack, and more. Best of all, it actually does function as a fully-capable 120/240v AC outlet strip.

Its being marketed as a penetration-testing tool for $1,295. According to Wired.com, though, funding for the research and development of the device came from a DARPA (Defense Advance Research Projects Agency) program called Cyber Fast Track. Perhaps the true purpose for the device has more to do with covert government operationsa physical penetration testing tool to complement advanced malware attacks like Stuxnet and Flame?

No matter its original purpose or how its being marketed by Pwnie Express. The fact is that any attacker with $1,300 can buy one and surreptitiously plant it in your office.

Its time to take inventory of the outlet strips and surge protectors in your office. Mark them, label them, and otherwise identify them as your own, then implement a policy against using any unapproved or unauthorized power strips. Your network and your data might depend on it.

This story, "Power Pwn outlet strip doubles as stealth hacking tool" was originally published by PCWorld.

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