The Yacht Technology Blog

Protecting your Yacht Network from Evil Twins

Posted by Andy Levy on Apr 8, 2015 10:02:00 AM


Protecting_your_Yacht_Network_from_Evil_TwinsIn my blog post entitled 4 Ways to Deter Superyacht Internet Hackers, I asked you to imagine this headline:


Hackers Access Bank Accounts, Passports and

Personal Information from

Superyacht Guests and Crew!


I described a frightening scenario where electronic devices used on a superyacht in port might, while searching for the port's Wi-Fi connection, be tricked into linking to a nefarious Wi-Fi connection. In the cyber world, this type of connection is called an “evil twin.”


Wikipedia says:

Evil twin is a term for a rogue Wi-Fi access point that appears to be a legitimate one offered on the premises, but actually has been set up to eavesdrop on wireless communications. An evil twin is the wireless version of the phishing scam. An attacker fools wireless users into connecting a laptop or mobile phone to a tainted hotspot by posing as a legitimate provider.


The attacker uses a bogus wireless access point, purporting to provide wireless Internet services, but snooping on the traffic. When the users log into unprotected (non-HTTPS) bank or e-mail accounts, the attacker has access to the entire transaction, since it is sent through their equipment.


According to Wikipedia, this is how hackers use evil twins to trick you into giving up your information:

Unwitting web users are invited to log into the attacker's server with bogus login prompts, tempting them to give away sensitive information such as usernames and passwords. Often users are unaware they have been duped until well after the incident has occurred.


Users think they have logged on to a wireless hotspot connection when in fact they have been tricked into connecting to its evil twin by it sending a stronger signal within proximity to the wireless client.


For people who know what they are doing, rogue access points are fairly easy to set up. All it takes is a laptop with a wireless card that can be used as an access point. And the hacker can make a wireless network look legitimate by giving the fake access point a name that is similar to the actual Wi-Fi network's name.


Once connected to on board electronic devices, the bad guys might gain access to your passwords, bank account numbers and other financial information. In 4 Ways to Deter Superyacht Internet Hackers, I gave (and thoroughly explained) the following tips for avoiding evil twin hacks:


1. Make sure you verify the network name EXACTLY.

2. Use encrypted sites.

3. Update your software whenever updates are available.

4. Use a VPN service.



fight_backA new way to fight back.

I just read about a new tool to defend networks from evil twins in an article by Lucian Constantin of IDG News Service. The article describes a product called EvilAP_Defender, which is “designed specifically to detect malicious access points that are configured by attackers to mimic legitimate ones in order to trick users to connect to them.”


According to Constantini, EvilAP_Defender "can use a computer’s wireless network card to discover rogue access points that duplicate a real access point’s SSID, BSSID, and even additional parameters like channel, cipher, privacy protocol, and authentication." EvilAP_Defender is open source software, meaning its source code is available for anyone to view, edit, and redistribute. It is also free of charge.


Constantin explains that when implemented, “the tool will first run in learning mode, so that the legitimate access point [AP] can be discovered and whitelisted. It can then be switched to normal mode to start scanning for unauthorized access points. If an evil AP is discovered, the tool can alert the network administrator by email, but the developer also plans to add SMS-based alerts in the future.”


I haven't yet tried EvilAP_Defender, but I like the idea that developer Mohamed Idris is trying to protect humanity from nefarious computer hackers. And the fact that this is free and open source gives me additional faith in the powers of good over evil. Sure, there will always be bad guys. But there are many more good people in this world poised to do battle with them. 



Are you looking for some yacht IT "good guys?"

The Technology Team at Great Circle Systems can set up on board and shore side systems designed to keep your yacht computer network and data safe from hackers. We can provide a VPN service for your vessel, help you keep your software current, and even train your crew in data security best practices.  


Want to know more? Just click on the picture below to contact our Technology Team. 


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Topics: yacht network design, yacht computers

JD_Crawford_head_shotDarren and the GCS team have been instrumental in the development and deployment of several carrier grade IT networks for large scale, Savant-based super-yacht projects where the technology infrastructure needed to be extremely reliable. 


The capabilities of the GCS team have proven instrumental in helping us deliver a world class technology experience to some of the most prestigious yachts in the world.


J.D. Crawford of Savant Systems


I have been working with Great Circle Systems since 2006 when they did the installation of all our networking and Internet communications equipment on our boat being built in Germany.


The equipment they recommended and installed was exactly as we required.  We have had extremely good results with all of their equipment and it has performed as they had advised.


I would highly recommend them to all fellow captains.


Captain Keith T. Moore of M/Y Lady Sheridan

CE_W_Michael_Hummel_of_MY_TVTriton Administrator has proven to be the perfect tool for us on M/Y TV, which is a 78 meter Luerssen yacht.


Triton has comprehensive essential features plus any additional features one can possibly need. It is still easy to use and has a swift support team to implement customer-specific wishes, such as individual day logs, etc.


W. Michael Hummel, Chief Engineer of M/Y TV


Captain Bruno Herregods talks about Great Circle Systems tech support. 

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