Worm attacks keyboards, medical devices and remote controls
March 29, 2010
Internet security researchers have just discovered an open-source worm that captures the traffic of a wide variety of wireless devices, including keyboards, medical devices and even remote controls.
The new worm has been dubbed Keykeriki version 2 and it captures the entire data stream sent between wireless devices using a popular series of chips made by Norway-based Nordic Semiconductor.
The virus also registers IP addresses and the raw payload being sent between various computers. The open-source package was developed by researchers of Switzerland-based Dreamlab Technologies and includes complete software, firmware and schematics for building the $100 sniffer.
At the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver two weeks ago, Dreamlab Senior Security Expert Thorsten Schroder demonstrated how Keykeriki could be used to attack wireless keyboards sold by Microsoft.
The exploit worked simply because communications in the devices are protected by a weak form of encryption known as xor, which is trivial to break. As a result, Schroder was able to intercept keyboard strokes as they were typed and to remotely send input that executed commands on the attached computer.
Keykeriki not only allows researchers or attackers to capture the entire layer 2 frames, it also allows them to send their own unauthorized payloads. That means devices that don't encrypt communications - or don't encrypt them properly - can be forced to deliver sensitive or personal data or be forced to execute rogue commands that can compromise one or several computers at any given time.
Even when computers employ strong cryptography, Schroder said Keykeriki may still be able to remotely send unauthorized commands using a technique known as a replay attack, in which commands sent previously are recorded and then sent again. The process can repeat itself over and over several times, said Schroder.
"Actually, Microsoft made it easy for us because they used their own proprietary crypto. Xor is not a very proper way to protect or store sensitive or personal information," Schroder was quick to point out.
Additionally, the device can be used to spot weaknesses in cryptographic communications by comparing keystrokes to corresponding ciphertext. Scroder's in-depth analysis reveals that wireless keyboards made by Logitech most likely use 128-bit AES encryption.
Still, it could be possible to decipher the contents by exploiting the way the secret key is exchanged.
Scroder added "we still didn't determine how to crack that one, but I think it's just a matter of time."
Source: Dreamlab Technologies.
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