Pwnie Express turns the Nexus 5 into a powerful white hat hacking tool

May 5, 2014

    pwn-phone

    Part of the magic of Android is the flexibility of the platform when it comes to customization and modding. With a little ingenuity, you can transform your Android-powered devices into just about anything — including a sweet hacking tool.

    That’s exactly what Pwnie Express did to the Nexus 5, which it dubs as the Pwn Phone. Retailing for a pricey $1295, the Pwn Phone utilizes Nexus hardware but switches out stock Android for a special variant that has a recompiled kernel and runs on its own derivative of Kali Linux on the back-end of Android.

    the Pwn Phone utilizes Nexus hardware but switches out stock Android for a special variant that has a recompiled kernel

    The Pwn Phone’s custom ROM gives the device the ability to act as a USB host, allowing it to add on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet via adapters. The reason for the added on adapters are that they offer improved range and capabilities over what’s already baked into the phone.

    The purpose of the Pwn Phone is simple: it’s designed for white hat hackers as a means of testing the strength of both Wi-Fi and Ethernet networks. The device is loaded with plenty of goodies to make the job as easy as possible, with 103 included network monitoring and attack tools. Twenty-six of these tools are even touch optimized and can be executed with one simple tap. Other tools require a bit of terminal work to get going. Many of the PwnPhone’s functions can also be carried out from another device such as a PC, thanks to the use of web-based adminstration tools. This is particularly useful in ‘stealth’ situations where you don’t want to make it known that you are testing the network’s security.

    Aside from the Nexus 5-based Pwn Phone, there’s also a Nexus 7-based Pwn Pad, which is essentially the same but comes in cheaper at $1095. While PwnPhone might only be targeted towards a niche group of folks, it is further testament to the power of Android and the hardware that runs on.

    For those interested in the idea of the Pwn Phone but already have your own Nexus 5, reportedly a community version of the Pwn Phone software will eventually be available for download.

    Comments

    • Dark_Laser

      Aidan Pierce wants one.

    • Ryu

      Pony Express.

    • Android Developer

      Ummmm….
      If it’s all just a ROM, why is it a hardware, which even includes an antenna …?
      Or is it just to enhance the reception for some reason?

      • Carlos Bojorges

        Let’s read first the article and then make questions, shall we?

        • Android Developer

          That’s what I did. I’ve read it’s a ROM, yet the image shows an antenna for some reason…
          I don’t understand why.
          Is it related to this sentence :
          “The reason for the added on adapters are that they offer improved range and capabilities over what’s already baked into the phone.”
          ?

          • BOBO

            The Pwn Phone’s custom ROM gives the device the ability to act as a USB host, allowing it to “add on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet via adapters”. [The reason for the added on adapters are that they offer improved range and capabilities over what’s already baked into the phone.]

            • Android Developer

              So the image does relate to this , right?

            • dodz

              your name is Android Developer and you dont even understand what you have read? the image is just to represent the article, does the article mention any antenna?

            • Android Developer

              Just like many other articles (on newspapers and on the Internet) , front image and title can be misleading I guess.
              I don’t work with hardware, so that’s why I asked about it, since it was weird that the entire article doesn’t say anything about the image being shown.
              BTW, just because I’m a developer doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes, and it also doesn’t mean I understand everything related to Android or to development.

            • Nick Pittak

              @Android Developer, do you understand what an add-on device is? Lets take an in-depth look at this excerpt:

              The Pwn Phone’s custom ROM gives the device the ability to act as a USB host, allowing it to “add on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet via adapters”. [The reason for the added on adapters are that they offer improved range and capabilities over what’s already baked into the phone.]

              If we look closely we can see at the end of the 1st line they state that acting as a USB host allows add-ons like (can you tell me what the next word in the paragraph is?) Wi-Fi adapters. If you look at the picture at the top that is in question we will see that the Wi-Fi adapter is indeed an add-on to the phone that is utilizing the USB host service. If you are now wondering why said person would want to do such a thing please refer to the later part of the excerpt above and read it. But for the sake of clarification let me sum it up for you. Add-on devices improve the range and offer different capabilities over the components in the phone.

              I hope this finally made sense to such a dense person.

              PS being a developer for such a specific hardware platform with little to no feasible knowledge of the hardware you are coding for does not only make you an idiot but it also makes you a very very bad developer.

            • Android Developer

              I’ve already understood this. English isn’t my main language, so perhaps I didn’t make it clear enough.

              I just never saw such an addon.
              I’ve even admitted that the image & title has mislead me, even after reading the article, because I wasn’t sure what is going on. It was more of a validation question.

              Also, Android is not ” a specific hardware platform” , as it supports a huge range of devices.
              Android developers don’t usually need to learn about such rarely used hardware.

              Most of the concern about hardware on Android is about memory usage and if the app looks well on different screens.
              Even games and demanding apps don’t require you to know much about hardware – you already have tons of tools to handle them : RS, NDK, …

              I don’t understand why you think not knowing about this kind of hardware would make someone a “bad developer”, “dense person” or “an idiot”.

              No developer know everything about the platform he develops for. Nobody knows how to use all of the APIs functions.
              It’s even rare for someone to develop a lot of apps that differ a lot between each other.

            • David Gabel

              Ignore the haters/trolls. They’ve nothing better to do with their time other than waste it all on being douchebags on the internet towards other people.

            • Android Developer

              @David_Gabel:disqus Yes, sometimes I feel like this guy: http://xkcd.com/386/

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003386080045 John doe

            Its a WiFi adapter velcroed on the rear

            • Android Developer

              Yes, never saw this kind of thing.
              Reminds me of Walky-talky, or something similar.

    • awareunlikeu

      I want

    • g1mp

      people… there is tp link usb wifi card below the phone …

    • anmolm97

      Can’t wait for this ROM!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003386080045 John doe

      Sweet I’m all over this.

    • http://www.mmocake.com mmoseeker

      more info about nexus
      https://mmoseeker.jux.com/3211765

    • Don Kelloway

      The chipset associated with the built-in, internal WiFi adaptor does not support packet injection, which is a requirement if there is a desire to perform penetration testing (AKA wireless cracking) of access points. Hence with the Pwn Phone we’ve included a TP-Link High Gain 150Mbps WiFi USB adaptor, which when coupled with the antenna seen in the picture, fulfills the requirement of being able to perform packet injection and provides greater range.

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