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Global threat: serious security flaw discovered in the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard

New flaw in the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard exposes the security of global networks to serious risks

A team of researchers from KU Leuven has discovered a vulnerability in the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard that allows hackers to create fake access points and intercept data traffic. This issue, known as CVE-2023-52424, affects billions of Wi-Fi devices.

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A team of researchers from KU Leuven University has discovered a dangerous vulnerability in the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. This flaw allows attackers to trick users into connecting to fraudulent Wi-Fi networks, subsequently intercepting data traffic. The issue, identified as CVE-2023-52424, was disclosed by Top10VPN in anticipation of an upcoming conference in Seoul, South Korea. This vulnerability affects all Wi-Fi clients on different platforms and operating systems, including those that use the protocol WPA3, WEP and 802.11X/EAP, making action urgent to protect billions of devices connected to these networks.

The SSID authentication problem in the IEEE 802.11 standard

The heart of the vulnerability lies in the fact that the IEEE 802.11 standard does not always require Service Set Identifier (SSID) authentication when connecting a client to a network. The SSID represents the unique identifier of Wi-Fi networks and access points, essential for distinguishing them from each other. Although modern networks use the four-way handshake to authenticate devices, the lack of mandatory SSID authentication allows an attacker to create a fake access point, tricking victims into connecting to a less secure compromised network . This critical issue is particularly relevant in corporate contexts where multiple networks share the same credentials.

Conditions of exploitation and associated risks

This vulnerability can mostly be exploited when an organization has Wi-Fi networks with shared credentials. An attacker can introduce a fake access point with the same SSID as a protected network, diverting the victim's connection to a vulnerable network. This flaw allows exploits known as Key Reinstallation Attack (KRACK), which severely compromise user security. Furthermore, attacks can undermine the protection offered by VPNs which, in the presence of reliable SSIDs, can automatically disconnect, further exposing users' private data to potential risks and malicious interceptions.

Defense proposals and recommendations from KU Leuven

KU Leuven experts suggest several measures to mitigate the risks associated with this vulnerability. First, they propose a revision of the IEEE 802.11 standard to make SSID authentication mandatory in connection processes. Additionally, they recommend improving the security of beacons transmitted by access points to prevent fraudulent changes to SSIDs. Finally, they highlight the importance of not reusing the same credentials for different SSIDs, to avoid facilitating attacks. The community must act quickly to implement these countermeasures and protect the security of Wi-Fi networks globally.

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05/17/2024 20:42

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