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This app can tell if your Wi-Fi is 'NetStinky'

16 Oct 18

A researcher at the University of Waikato has created a ‘NetStinky’ way of telling whether your home internet network has been breached.

You might use locks and alarms to keep criminals physically out of your house, but it’s a bit harder to keep cybercriminals off your network.

Dr Matthew Luckie is a senior lecturer in computer science. He has developed an app that can raise the alarm if a person’s home network has been breached.

Luckie named the Android app ‘NetStinky’. When the app starts it does a quick check to see if there is anything associated with the network that suggests there could be a problem.

The name ‘NetStinky’ comes from the idea that if devices on a network are infected, it’s a sign of poor network hygiene.

The NetStinky app runs in the background and Luckie says users will ‘hopefully forget’ about the fact the app is running.

“NetStinky checks the WiFi network you are connected to for publicly-reported indications of compromise, such as sending spam, taking part in bot-nets, or making outgoing hacking attempts.

NetStinky will then periodically check for indications of compromise and alert you if your network shows signs it could be compromised.”

“If there’s a problem it will alert you on your screen. You don’t need to obsessively check or anything, it will scan your network regularly,” Luckie explains.

Home and novice users make up a large chunk of internet surfers, which means those that can’t detect compromised systems are at risk.

Luckie received a $997,000 grant towards the app, on the basis of it being a system that can tell those who are not IT experts when their home network has been compromised, and which device is affected.

The project is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Luckie and researchers are not making money out of the app.

The app is still in development: The second stage of the project will be to identifying which device on the network has the problem which requires modification of the router.

The system will build Cyber Capability in novice users, increasing New Zealand's cybersecurity at the household level.  

It will investigate how users remediate in response to notification, and the findings will be published in appropriate peer-reviewed venues. 

The source code for the home router intrusion detection software will also be published using a permissive open-source license, enabling home router vendors to customise and include the software in their products.

While NetStinky is only available on Android so far, it will soon be available for iOS.

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