New Attack Targets Wireless Logins

Jun 03, 2014

A first cousin of the recent Heartbleed attack affects EAP-based wireless and peer-to-peer authentication.

The Heartbleed attack vector, which is capable of compromising OpenSSL encrypted connections, caused a stir in the open source community recently, even leading to the establishment of the new Core Infrastructure Initiative for updating and supporting FOSS projects that are key to the success of the Internet. Just when everyone thought the Heartbleed scare was over, Portuguese security researcher Luis Grangeia has described a new attack vector based on Heartbleed that affects the EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol) authentication framework used with wireless and peer-to-peer connections.
According to Grangeia, "cupid is the name I gave to two source patches that can be applied to the programs 'hostapd' and 'wpa_supplicant' on Linux. These patches modify the programs' behavior to exploit the heartbleed flaw on TLS connections that happen on certain types of password-protected wireless networks."
Grangeia goes on to point out, "It is not necessary to fully establish a TLS connection to perform the heartbleed attack. No actually keys or certificates need be exchanged. I have found out it to be possible to send and receive heatbleed responses right after a 'Client Hello' message (before certificates are presented or sessions keys are exchanged."
If you have not applied the patches that circulated following the original Heartbleed scare earlier this year, you are advised to do so immediately. As for the new cupid vector, be advised that services that use EAP could be at risk. Watch for security updates from your Linux distribution.

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