http://www.sxc.hu/photo/368468/A new malware has come to the market by the name of “Chameleon.” Not only is this worm potent and potentially harmful to small businesses and personal computer users alike, it can spread more quickly than any other worm because it travels through WiFi networks.

Chameleon is the first known malware to travel in such a way – for many years, experts assumed it was simply not possible. However, with new technology and the popularity of WiFi networks, Chameleon has become a reality. Alan Marshall, one of the members of the team that developed Chameleon at the University of Liverpool in England, stated that “it was assumed…that it wasn’t possible to develop a virus that could attack WiFi networks; but we demonstrated that this is possible and that it can spread quickly.”

Chameleon comes to the market as a worm and not a virus because it can “self-replicate” without any human assistance whatsoever. Every WiFi password it comes across it tries to crack automatically. Still, like a virus, Chameleon hops from one device to the next through open and easily accessible WiFi networks, much like the flu among humans.

Since Chameleon is a completely new type of computer infection, even up-to-date virus scanners have no idea how to detect it. Generally speaking, an anti-virus scans a computer for threats. Since Chameleon comes in through a router, there’s not currently any way to detect it.

Currently, Chameleon is fairly harmless, and simply searches out weak or open WiFi networks. Then, it sits – at the moment, it has only been created for demonstration, not for any malicious purposes. Researchers at the University of Liverpool simply designed it to prove a point, so Chameleon poses no risk to anyone just yet. However, the technology is coming, and this isn’t the last we’ll see of such powerful malware. Chameleon-like worms could be used to destroy or hijack routers, steal data, or even watch all of the traffic that goes through a specified router.

The best part of Chameleon is that it can’t get through a particularly strong WiFi password, and the program has been “trained” to simply move onto the next router if it can’t get into yours. This makes it exceedingly easy to protect yourself from such a worm. However, without proper security on your router, Chameleon will have absolutely no problem spying on everything that you do.

If your router is unsecured, or has a weak password (think “password” or “123abc” or any default password a router comes with), now is an excellent time to think of and create a stronger password to protect your devices and the additional devices on your network.