New Wi-Fi Encryption Vulnerability Affects Over A Billion Devices

New Wi-Fi Encryption Vulnerability Affects Over A Billion Devices

The vulnerability exists in Wi-Fi chips made by Broadcom and Cypress, which acquired Broadcom's Internet of Things division in 2016, and affects devices connecting with the nearly-ubiquitous WPA2 standard.

The exploit was detailed at the RSA security conference in San Francisco today.

The attacker does not need to be connected to the victim's wireless network and the flaw works against vulnerable devices using WPA2-Personal or WPA2-Enterprise protocols, with AES-CCMP encryption, to protect their network traffic.

The chipsets used aren't unique to Apple, and as Cult Of Mac notes, Apple's October 2019 patches for iOS, iPadOS and macOS directly addressed the issue, so as long as you are up-to-date on your updates, you should be secure. Amazon uses them in its Kindle and Echo products; Apple uses them in various iPad, iPhone and MacBook models; Google uses them in its Nexus products; Samsung relies on them for its Galaxy smartphones and they're also found in the Raspberry Pi 3, as well as Wi-Fi routers. "This greatly increases the attack surface, as an adversary can decrypt data that was transmitted by a vulnerable access point, which is often beyond your control, to your device, which doesn't have to be vulnerable". You have been keeping your tech updated. haven't you?

"Wi-Fi access points and routers are also affected by Kr00k", the ESET researchers said, "making even environments with patched client devices vulnerable".


Full details about Kr00k are available on a dedicated page as well as in a technical paper authored by Miloš Čermák, Štefan Svorenčík and Robert Lipovský, in collaboration with Ondrej Kubovič. However, a lot of private communication on your Wi-Fi network should still be safe because of encryption used by websites themselves.

ESET researchers have worked for more than a year on researching the vulnerability and ensuring that manufacturers using the Broadcom and Cypress chips had developed and released patches for it.

ESET researchers explain that Kr00k occurs after a disassociation stage, when the TK stored in the WiFi chip is set to zero, a.k.a. cleared in memory. This totaled to over a billion Wi-Fi-capable devices and access points, at a conservative estimate.

During the investigation into KRACK, ESET researchers identified Kr00k as one of the causes behind the "reinstallation" of an all-zero encryption key observed in tests for KRACK attacks. Broadcom had to develop its own patch to release to manufacturers, which then had to release patches for their own products afterwards. Eset explains that patches are already available from most manufacturers.

In brief, a successful attack merely degrades your security a step towards what you'd have on an open Wi-Fi network.

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