Google Glass Vulnerable to Attack

Monday, July 22, 2013 @ 06:07 PM gHale


Just after Google fixed one Wi-Fi security problem with its wearable computer Glass, researchers found another problem, which has been a long-known weakness in wireless networking.

The second issue is quite a few Wi-Fi devices regularly look for networks they connected to before, and that behavior is convenient for users, since they don’t have to manually connect to a known network, said Candid Wueest, a threat researcher for Symantec.

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But for as little as $100, a hacker can buy a device that impersonates the known Wi-Fi network by borrowing the network’s name, known as its SSID (Service Set Identifier).

If a mobile device such as Google Glass looks for a known network with the SSID of “myPrivateWiFi,” a device called the Wi-Fi Pineapple can respond, pretending it is the network.

Wi-Fi Pineapple is a tool for security researchers. It sits between a targeted device and the Internet. Once it has tricked a Wi-Fi device into thinking it is the legitimate network, it can then spy on the data traffic.

If the traffic between a pair of Google Glasses and a remote server is unencrypted, an attacker using Wi-Fi Pineapple can view it, a major privacy and security problem known as a man-in-the-middle attack (MitM).

The issue isn’t exclusive to Google Glass and could affect any device used by someone in a coffee shop. Savvy laptop and mobile phone users may be able to take steps to prevent data from leaking by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). But the keyboard-less interface of Google Glass could make thwarting this style of attack more complicated.

In early June, Google fixed the vulnerability found by Lookout, which found Glass would scan a QR Code instructing it to connect to a malicious Wi-Fi access point. Lookout, which told Google of the problem in May, then directed Glass to a malicious website that ran a known Android 4.04 vulnerability, which gave the security vendor complete control over the glasses.

Google issued several fixes, including one that required users to approve instructions contained in QR codes.

The fundamental problem of Wi-Fi devices looking for known networks isn’t an easy one to solve, Wueest said. Devices could check a hardware identifier, called the MAC (Media Access Control) address, of a Wi-Fi router and match it with the SSID. But MAC addresses are easy to fake, he said.

“The more practicable solution is to treat every network as hostile and ensure that all the applications use encrypted communications like SSL [Secure Sockets Layers] or tunnel through a VPN,” Wueest said.

Google was not immediately available for comment.



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