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The Deauther Watch is the world’s most annoying wearable

When I was a kid, I was entranced by commercials for the Talkboy Tape Recorder. They promised you a life of pranks and trickery, a perfect tool for being optimally annoying to siblings and loved ones — as seen in Home Alone 2!

The world has changed a lot since then — and for better or worse, annoying gadgets have become a lot more powerful. For instance, they’re now able to kick someone off of Wi-Fi repeatedly, at will, for as long as you like.

What is it?

The Dstike Deauther Watch (now in version 3) is both utilitarian and simple. At its core, it is just an ESP8266, a cheap simple Wi-Fi chip that is in tons of tech. If you have Wi-Fi light bulbs, you probably have several of these chips in your home right now. 

On top of the chip, there is a little screen and battery that runs a simple Deauther tool written by a programmer called Spacehuhn. With it, you can kick any device off of a 2.4G Wi-Fi network. It should be noted that the Dstike is not a jammer, which you should definitely not buy, as Spacehuhn explains: a jammer works by creating a ton of indiscriminate noise, which can interfere with things like emergency services and is very probably illegal in your area. 

Devices like the Dstike watch or any similar device running the Deauther tool work by using deauthentication frames to tell a device to disconnect from a Wi-Fi network. You are basically getting someone’s phone or laptop to quit being connected.

What can it do?

The Dstike Deauther watch can knock a device off of its Wi-Fi network, which is very annoying. You can also do a beacon attack, which lets you create a fake access point with names of your choice, or a probe attack, which can be used to confuse Wi-Fi trackers. It lets you monitor Wi-Fi traffic and, of course, also has a clock (with NTP time server synchronization) and a powerful laser pointer because if you are already wearing something that looks like that, you may as well take it to its logical conclusion. 

Like all ESP8266 development boards, you can also get it to run other software if that is your thing. It should be worth noting, however, that the ESP8266 chip only works on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, so the script doesn’t pose a risk to every network.

How much of a threat is it?

Minor. The stated goal of Spacehuhn’s project is to bring attention to a huge flaw in older Wi-Fi implementations and offer a tool to test against them. Luckily, many new routers do have protections against this with a feature called protected management frames

There are still a ton of older devices out there, so you could definitely wreak some havoc, although the attack doesn’t do much by itself other than force you to log in again. More seriously, a Deauther tool like this could be used to bump a target off a legitimate network and onto an attacker-controlled network to set up an injection attack, making it the first step in a very nasty chain.

That said, the goal of the project itself is well-intentioned and designed to be used to secure your own network instead of, say, slowly annoying your neighbor over a period of several months. And, just to reiterate, there is nothing novel or special about the watch itself. The watch just runs a script that you can put on any ESP8266 board, which usually costs around $3 on Amazon or AliExpress. 

Could I use it myself?

Yep. There’s tons of info in the wiki and videos online on how to set it up. And since the watch is just a fun package for the whole thing, this is probably one of the more accessible hacking tools out there. If you want to try your hand at messing around with this stuff for your own personal security testing for next to nothing, there are plenty of great guides showing you how to set it up.

In addition to the OLED screen, the watch features a convenient web interface that you can use to connect via your smartphone or PC. Just make sure you use it on your own networks instead of being a little stinker.

You could also (hear me out here) just use it as a watch. It’s just a raw black PCB in a clear plastic enclosure, but sometimes the brutally functional is just what you need. Think of it as a kind of anti-Apple Watch: brutal and simple with a focused purpose and a Hackers-inspired sense of style.

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