Wi-Fi client vulnerability could expose Android, Linux, BSD, other systems to attacks

A flaw in the widely used wpa_supplicant wireless client can lead remote code execution

A serious flaw in a component that's used to authenticate clients on Wi-Fi networks could expose Android, Linux, BSD, and possibly Windows and Mac OS X systems to attacks.

The vulnerability is in wpa_supplicant, an open-source software implementation of the IEEE 802.11i specifications for wireless clients.

The component is cross-platform and is used to control WPA and WPA2 wireless connections on Android, Linux and BSD systems. It can also be used by some third-party wireless software on Mac OS X and Windows, but these operating systems have their own built-in supplicant implementations that are used by default.

The vulnerability stems from how wpa_supplicant parses SSID (Service Set Identifier) information from wireless network frames when the CONFIG_P2P option is enabled. If exploited, the flaw can allow attackers to crash the client (denial of service), read contents from the process's memory or inject arbitrary data into its memory, which could result in arbitrary code execution.

All versions of wpa_supplicant from 1.0 to 2.4 are vulnerable. A patch was released Wednesday and operating systems are expected to update their packages.

"The vulnerability is easiest to exploit while the device has started an active P2P operation (e.g., has ongoing P2P_FIND or P2P_LISTEN control interface command in progress)," said Jouni Malinen, maintainer of wpa_supplicant, in an advisory posted on the OSS security mailing list. "However, it may be possible, though significantly more difficult, to trigger this even without any active P2P operation in progress."

The vulnerability was discovered by the hardware research group at Alibaba and was reported to the wpa_supplicant development team by the Google security team.

Users should install the security updates for wpa_supplicant when they become available for their operating systems. A mitigation in the meantime is to disable P2P for each wireless interface in the wpa_supplicant configuration file by following instructions in the advisory.

Unfortunately, wpa_supplicant is also used on embedded devices, for which patches are not as frequently released or easy to install.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags online safetypatchesAccess control and authenticationExploits / vulnerabilities

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?