Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

5/16/2019
05:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail

Google to Replace Titan Security Keys Affected by Bluetooth Bug

A misconfiguration in Bluetooth Titan Security Keys' pairing protocols could compromise users under specific circumstances.



Google is offering free replacements for Bluetooth-enabled Titan Security Keys following the discovery of a misconfiguration in its pairing protocols that could potentially give attackers access to user accounts under (very) precise circumstances, the company announced this week.

The Titan Security Key, a two-factor authentication device built to FIDO standards, was made available to Google Cloud customers in July 2018. This particular issue affects the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) version available in the US. Non-Bluetooth keys (those using NFC or USB) are not affected. Google outlines two cases in which this vulnerability can put users at risk if an attacker is within approximately 30 feet from their targets at the moment they use their keys.

When a user signs into an account, that person is prompted to active the security key by pressing a button. If an attacker is nearby and has exact timing, they could connect their own device to the target's affected security key before the target's device connects. If the attacker has the target's username and password, they could use their device to log into the target's accounts.

An attacker in close proximity could also take advantage of this bug by disguising their device as a target's vulnerable security key, and connecting to their device when they're asked to press the button during the pairing process. If successful, the attacker could change their device to appear as a Bluetooth device and potentially take actions on a target's machine, writes Christiaan Brand, product manager for Google Cloud, in a blog post on the Bluetooth bug.

Given the exact timing and information required for these scenarios to play out, most users will likely not be affected. As Brand notes, the bug doesn't interfere with the key's primary purpose, which is blocking phishing attempts from remote attackers. In the post, he offers workarounds for iOS and Android users to stay secure while using their keys and awaiting replacements.

"It is much safer to use the affected key instead of no key at all," he writes. "Security keys are the strongest protection against phishing currently available."

Still, it's worth noting that a knowledgeable, dogged attacker could pull this off. The Titan Security Keys are now available to everyone but especially common among high-profile figures, journalists, activists, and others at risk and looking for added security. As The Verge points out, their expectations for greater protection put more scrutiny on tech from providers like Google.

To check if your Titan Security Key is affected and eligible for a free replacement, look for a "T1" or "T2" on the back of the key, above the USB port. If you see one of those two, you'll likely want a new key. You can also check your Google account for affected security keys here.

Microsoft first discovered this vulnerability and shared it with companies involved in making the affected products. This meant Google, of course, along with Feitian, which produces the keys' hardware and also sells security keys under its own brand. Feitian is offering free replacements for versions 1 to 3 of its MultiPass FIDO security key, it says in an advisory.

Closing the Bluetooth Security Gaps
Google's decision to launch a BLE security key was met with criticism from other companies. One was Yubico, which had started work on a BLE security key and contributed to BLE U2F standards work, but ultimately decided not to launch the product because "it does not meet our standards for security, usability, and durability," company officials wrote in a blog post.

BLE is "much more secure than the classic Bluetooth," says Nadir Izrael, co-founder and CTO at Armis. For a security key like Titan, it makes more sense to use BLE than classic Bluetooth due to its low energy – beneficial for a longer battery life – and low bandwidth requirements.

Still, he adds, BLE is vulnerable to different kinds of attacks. With NFC and USB, it's "almost impossible" to become a "man-in-the-middle" of their communications, Izrael continues. The true appeal for using any wireless protocol, BLE included, is convenience. "The ease of connectivity offered by BLE is a compelling reason to use it in security keys," he explains.

The primary concern with any wireless protocol is exchanging security keys in a secure way. BLE is no different, and while it offers secure ways to answer this question, the security of the pairing process depends on how it's used. Companies looking to use Bluetooth or BLE in their products should take extra steps to review them carefully, he says. With the nature of connected devices, protecting against man-in-the-middle attacks should be paramount.

Google continues to push physical security keys for two-step verification. Most recently, it gave Android smartphones running version 7.0 or later the ability to be used as physical security keys for authenticating into personal Google accounts and G Suite, Google Cloud Platform, and other Google apps. The Bluetooth vulnerability disclosed this week does not affect this capability.

Related Content:

 

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
rosey12
50%
50%
rosey12,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/5/2019 | 2:05:00 AM
asus error
Is this suitable for android device also? I am facing Asus Error Code 55. It is happening after updating the device. Please help me to fix this.
7 Truths About BEC Scams
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  6/13/2019
DNS Firewalls Could Prevent Billions in Losses to Cybercrime
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/13/2019
Cognitive Bias Can Hamper Security Decisions
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/10/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-12855
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-16
In words.protocols.jabber.xmlstream in Twisted through 19.2.1, XMPP support did not verify certificates when used with TLS, allowing an attacker to MITM connections.
CVE-2013-7472
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
The "Count per Day" plugin before 3.2.6 for WordPress allows XSS via the wp-admin/?page=cpd_metaboxes daytoshow parameter.
CVE-2019-12839
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
In OrangeHRM 4.3.1 and before, there is an input validation error within admin/listMailConfiguration (txtSendmailPath parameter) that allows authenticated attackers to achieve arbitrary command execution.
CVE-2019-12840
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
In Webmin through 1.910, any user authorized to the "Package Updates" module can execute arbitrary commands with root privileges via the data parameter to update.cgi.
CVE-2019-12835
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
formats/xml.cpp in Leanify 0.4.3 allows for a controlled out-of-bounds write in xml_memory_writer::write via characters that require escaping.