Symantec: Google Glass still vulnerable to Wi-Fi attack

Glass can fall prey to a long-known issue in wireless networking

By , IDG News Service |  Security

Google fixed one Wi-Fi security problem with its wearable computer Glass, but Symantec says there's another problem, which has been a long-known weakness in wireless networking.

The security vendor has been analyzing Google Glass in its labs and found a second issue that is just as harmful as the now-patched QR-code vulnerability found by Lookout Mobile Security, which was made public earlier this week.

Many Wi-Fi devices regularly look for networks that they have been connected to before, wrote Candid Wueest, a threat researcher for Symantec. The behavior is convenient for users, since they don't have to manually connect to a known network, he wrote.

But for as little as US$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 intended as 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, for example, 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 that 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.

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