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

May 5, 2014
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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.

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