Here’s all you need to know about the Wi-fi security flaw affecting a billion devices

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 28, 2020

Representative image   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

The vulnerability dubbed Kr00k lets hackers eavesdrop on user activity over Wi-fi

A serious vulnerability in Wi-Fi chips affecting a billion devices has been discovered by cyber-security firm ESET who presented their findings at the RSA conference 2020 on Wednesday.

“ESET researchers have discovered Kr00k (CVE-2019-15126), a previously unknown vulnerability in Wi-Fi chips used in many client devices, Wi-Fi access points and routers,” the firm said in an official statement.

The flaw dubbed Kr00k by ESET allows attackers to eavesdrop on user communications over Wi-Fi by gaining access to Wi-Fi traffic by disarming the encryption used by a password-protected Wi-Fi network.

“Kr00k is a vulnerability that causes the network communication of an affected device to be encrypted with an all-zero encryption key. In a successful attack, this allows an adversary to decrypt wireless network packets,” it said.

“Kr00k manifests itself after Wi-Fi disassociations – which can happen naturally, for example due to a weak Wi-Fi signal, or may be manually triggered by an attacker. If an attack is successful, several kilobytes of potentially sensitive information can be exposed,” explained Miloš Čermák, the lead ESET researcher into the Kr00k vulnerability. “By repeatedly triggering disassociations, the attacker can capture a number of network packets with potentially sensitive data,” he adds.

Kr00k affects all devices with Broadcom and Cypress Wi-Fi chips that do not have a security patch which are the most common Wi-Fi chips used in today's client devices according to the frim’s research.

ESET had disclosed the flaw to these chip manufacturers who then released security patches for prevention.

The firm is also working with Industry Consortium for Advancement of Security on the Internet (ICASI) to ensure that all possibly affected parties – including affected device manufacturers using the vulnerable chips, as well as other possibly affected chip manufacturers are aware of Kr00k.

The vulnerability has affected multiple client devices from Apple (iPhone, iPad, MacBook), Google (Nexus), Samsung (Galaxy), Raspberry (Pi 3) and Xiaomi (Redmi), as well as access points by Asus and Huawei according to the research.

The devices that were found to be vulnerable to Kr00k include: Amazon Echo 2nd gen, Amazon Kindle 8th gen, Apple iPad mini 2, Apple iPhone 6, 6S, 8, XR, Apple MacBook Air Retina 13-inch 2018, Google Nexus 5, Google Nexus 6, Google Nexus 6S • Raspberry Pi 3, Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505, Samsung Galaxy S8 and Xiaomi Redmi 3S

A few wireless routers by ASUS and Huawei were also vulnerable to the attack. The routers found vulnerable to the flaw were Asus RT-N12, Huawei B612S-25, Huawei EchoLife HG8245H and Huawei E5577Cs-321.

The research also explained how users can protect their device against possible attacks due to this vulnerability.

“To protect yourself, as a user, make sure you have updated all your Wi-Fi-capable devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, IoT smart devices, and Wi-Fi access points and routers, to the latest firmware version,” said ESET researcher Robert Lipovský.

Most of the affected devices affected by Kr00k have released patches for the flaw according to ESET’s official release.

Published on February 28, 2020

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