If we were to count the number of vulnerabilities we have been describing in recent weeks, we would probably never end. Today we have news of a new security breach, which in this case has been baptized as KNOB and that affects Bluetooth connections between devices.
As The Next Web reports, we are facing a critical vulnerability, discovered by security researchers. The Oxford University, the University of Technology and Design of Singapore and the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security, say that the attack can allow an attacker to carry out easily (if done in an accurate and appropriate manner ) what is called a ‘Intermediary attack’, in English, man-in-the-middle attack, MitM.
But what does this attack consist of and why can it be dangerous? This system in question serves for an attacker to intercept communications between two victims, so that can observe the information that they share and can even modify it at will.
These types of attacks can easily occur within the scope of a WiFi network that has not been encrypted, in which the attacker can participate as an intermediary. In this case, the affectation would lie in two devices connected via Bluetooth.
The attacker could get between connected devices
They have named it KNOB, an acronym for Key Negotiation of Bluetooth. But how would the attack in question work if someone could take advantage of this vulnerability? If the hacker in question is skilled enough, he could interfere in the communications of his opponent's device, intercepting and altering the files that transit from one device to another, at the precise moment of that transit. If conversations also occur via Bluetooth, these could also be heard.
So the TL; DR of https://t.co/hyhdXzVuWQ us that the Bluetooth spec allows one wide of the pairing key exchange to suggest a key length in bytes, and doesn’t authenticate it. The key size can be pushed down to 1 byte.
– Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) August 15, 2019
The explanation is somewhat complex, but we go there. Apparently, a KNOB attack would have its pernicious effects when devices that connect via Bluetooth they are forced to use an encryption key with a single entropy byte. It is a way to use brute force with the password.
From there, you can insert data or spy on it, whether files or audios of conversations. It would not matter in this case, because hackers would have the power to intercept them in the same way. All this would help the cybercriminal in question to enter the system and radically break with the security protocol of Bluetooth BR / EDR. All this without being detected at any time, which would undoubtedly add danger to this gap.
The investigation has allowed experts to consider, in addition, that the firmware that integrates all Bluetooth chips are compatible with the standard that presents this vulnerability. Thus, All devices are likely to be victims of an attack.
Some manufacturers may have incorporated solutions
This vulnerability was revealed to the manufacturers of the industry at the end of 2018. Specifically in November. This means that the desirable at this point it would be that most had corrected the problem, so that the devices were totally safe at this point. You should keep in mind, though, that if your Bluetooth device has not been updated since the end of 2018, it is most likely that the manufacturer has not applied any correction.
The research carried out by these experts on 17 Bluetooth chips installed in 24 different teams have tested positive for KNOB vulnerability. This includes chips from Apple, Intel, Broadcom and Qualcomm, which are usually integrated into the devices we all have in our pockets.
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