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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/21/2016
03:30 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

WindTalker Attack Finds New Vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi Networks

White hat researchers show how hackers read keystrokes to potentially compromise cellphone and tablet users on public Wi-Fi and home networks.

A group of seven computer scientists have discovered WindTalker, a vulnerability in Wi-Fi networks that lets hackers potentially read keystrokes based on the finger position of a cellphone or tablet user.

The vulnerability was found by five researchers based at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China, while the other two are affiliated with the University of Massachusetts at Boston and University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

Xiaohui Liang, the researcher based at UMass Boston, says by exploiting this vulnerability hackers can know when the user inputs PIN numbers. The researchers recently presented their findings in a paper to the ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Vienna, Austria.

Paul Ducklin, a senior technologist at Sophos who wrote a blog about WindTalker, says the research is important in that it points at a previously undiscovered vulnerability.

“This research just underscores that security is a journey,” Ducklin says. “While this couldn’t have been possible five years ago, with the processing power now available, it is today. And while manufacturers don’t have to run out quickly to correct WindTalker, it does put them on notice that it could be a problem in the years to come.”

In his blog, Ducklin explains that the researchers used specially modified firmware downloaded into a single Wi-Fi network card to create an access point that could keep track of minute variations in the underlying communication signal, and correlate those changes with the cell phone user’s typing.

Ducklin says once the researchers detected the Wi-Fi flaw, they also realized that hackers can set up rogue networks in situations where users sign on automatically. This can be on a public Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop or airport, or even a home network where users generally sign on without looking at the network’s name.

“The criminals can clone the network’s name and the user would have no idea if it was the legitimate network,” Ducklin says.

Ducklin praised the researchers for discovering this new flaw, saying that users may now realize that they have to take added precautions. He recommends that users consider installing a VPN client on their devices, as well as using two-factor authentication.

“The two-factor authentication can’t prevent a hack, but it can mitigate the damage,” he explains. “While a hacker may get through once, with two-factor authentication, the password that the criminals used today won’t be any good tomorrow.”

Related Content:

 

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/17/2020
Cybersecurity Bounces Back, but Talent Still Absent
Simone Petrella, Chief Executive Officer, CyberVista,  9/16/2020
Meet the Computer Scientist Who Helped Push for Paper Ballots
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/16/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-5421
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-19
In Spring Framework versions 5.2.0 - 5.2.8, 5.1.0 - 5.1.17, 5.0.0 - 5.0.18, 4.3.0 - 4.3.28, and older unsupported versions, the protections against RFD attacks from CVE-2015-5211 may be bypassed depending on the browser used through the use of a jsessionid path parameter.
CVE-2020-8225
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
A cleartext storage of sensitive information in Nextcloud Desktop Client 2.6.4 gave away information about used proxies and their authentication credentials.
CVE-2020-8237
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
Prototype pollution in json-bigint npm package < 1.0.0 may lead to a denial-of-service (DoS) attack.
CVE-2020-8245
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
Improper Input Validation on Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway 13.0 before 13.0-64.35, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.1 before 12.1-58.15, Citrix ADC 12.1-FIPS before 12.1-55.187, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.0, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 11.1 before 11.1-65.12, Citrix SD-WAN WANOP 11....
CVE-2020-8246
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway 13.0 before 13.0-64.35, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.1 before 12.1-58.15, Citrix ADC 12.1-FIPS before 12.1-55.187, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.0, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 11.1 before 11.1-65.12, Citrix SD-WAN WANOP 11.2 before 11.2.1a, Citrix SD-W...