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APA Wireless Engineer Details Android Exploits Through Implanted NFC Chip

April 27, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

As technology advances, so to do the methods used by hackers to gain access to sensitive and personal information from individuals and companies. The security used to protect the public from those types of cyber attacks advances too, but perhaps not at the same rate. Most people might still think of hackers using a traditional means of technology to bypass firewalls and get to sensitive data, in this day and age though not everything is handled by a laptop or desktop computer. More brave individuals have turned to biohacking to augment their bodies with small electronics which have the capacity to play a role in helping hackers complete a successful cyber attack.

This is showcased by former U.S. Navy petty officer Seth Wahle who now works for APA Wireless as an engineer, who had a small NFC chip implanted in his left hand right between his pointer finger and his thumb. An NFC chip may sound harmless to the uninitiated, as most of us are familiar with them being embedded in our smartphones for use with sending files back and forth, or for the communication between our smartphones and POS kiosks as part of the mobile payment system. Wahle’s NFC chip is capable of being used for much more nefarious purposes however, and it’s the NFC chips in our smartphones that makes this type of biohacking somewhat interesting. The NFC (near field communication) chip is able to ping a nearby Android device and prompt it to open up a link. Should the user of the device choose to click on the link a malicious piece of software is installed on the phone which allows the device to connect to a remote server, which the hacker has control of, and would now be able to initiate further exploits on the user’s device, potentially putting all the information and sensitive data at risk.

In addition to this process potentially open up new ways for hackers to gain access to your information, Wahle explains that security checkpoints inside airports are seemingly unable to detect the chip implanted under the skin, as he states he’d had the chip implanted in himself prior to leaving the military where he went through daily scans, and the chip was never detected. This doesn’t mean that the chip is completely undetectable, as he notes that X-rays would b able to get the job done, but it leaves a possible wide open door for putting Android devices at risk from those who have the technical skills and the ambition to complete such attacks. Methods like this have limits, to be sure, as Wahle mentions that the remote connection from a hacker can only be kept if the Android device affected isn’t locked or rebooted. There could be an easy work around for this though, and all hackers would have to do is engineer the files to start on boot.

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