When I thought through everything I wanted to accomplish with the Apollo Project I realized I needed to find the right computer hardware for it. It had to be inexpensive, flexible, easy to use, and very portable so that I could move it around easily. It had to be small and inconspicuous so that if I decided to leave it somewhere while it did it’s work no one would really be any the wiser.
For those reasons I purchased a small computer called a Raspberry Pi 3 that lists around $35. I paid a little more than that in order to get some cables, a case, bluetooth mini-keyboard, and an extra micro-SD card bringing my out of pocket expense to about $100.
For those of you with a smidge of nerd mind-ness like me, here are the specs on this little computer. It’s quite amazing.
Raspberry Pi3 Model B
SoC: Broadcom BCM2837
CPU: 4× ARM Cortex-A53, 1.2GHz
GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV
RAM: 1GB LPDDR2 (900 MHz)
Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, 2.4GHz 802.11n wireless
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1 Classic, Bluetooth Low Energy
GPIO: 40-pin header, populated
Ports: HDMI, 3.5mm analogue audio-video jack, 4× USB 2.0, Ethernet, Camera Serial Interface (CSI), Display Serial Interface (DSI)
After a few searches on Google I learned what it would take to make Apollo an effective tool. The computer comes with a basic operating system that is good for a variety of uses such as a media player or basic internet browser. However I needed an operating system with some teeth.
Enter Linux Kali. Linux is an open source (that means it’s free and you can modify it any way you like) operating system that is extremely popular with tech minded people. The Kali version of this operating system is a robust platform for security professionals to do all sorts of tests on their own networks to find vulnerabilities. Unfortunately the tools are also good for a cyber criminal to use in a malicious way. A quick look at the Kali website and I was able to find a version of the software and instructions specifically for installing it on my raspberry Pi. After about 30 minutes Apollo came to life.
The amount of ready to use tools in the operating system were amazing. I have to admit I felt a twinge of nerd-ness when I realized I was what the real hackers out there call a “script-kiddie”, which is a non-flattering term for people like me who use prepackaged “scripts” to do the work of a hacker and not really designing or writing my own code to do so. I guess I am ok with that – you have to start somewhere, right?
After browsing the tools available I settled in on a program called Wireshark. It is a program that allows you to turn your WiFi adapter into a sophisticated “sniffer”. In a nutshell, the program monitors, records, and analyzes the data that is flowing over any WiFi network it is connected to, regardless of who is sending or receiving it. Yes, you heard that right, any and all of it. Did that scare you a little bit? It should. After spending $100 and about an hour on the internet I was able to build a very small, easy to conceal computer that can capture all of the data moving across any WiFi channel it is connected to.
Let that sink in for a minute.
The next step was to take Apollo on the road to see how well he worked at sniffing open public wifi. This short video blog entry gives the details.
Please let me know what you think in the comments below.
Categories: The Apollo Project