Wi-Fi software found in many major laptops and smartphones has a major security flaw — here's what you need to know

A bus with a WiFi sign on the back
(Image credit: Unsplash/Dreamlike Street)

Many of the most popular laptops and smartphones in use today could be vulnerable to two major security flaws that could result in identity theft, data exfiltration, business email compromise (BEC) and other risks, experts have warned. 

This is according to cybersecurity researchers  at Top10VPN and Mathy Vanhoef, who found two separate vulnerabilities - one tracked as CVE-2023-52160, and another tracked as CVE-2023-52161. 

With the latter, a threat actor would be able to join an otherwise protected Wi-Fi network, and target other devices connected to it with malware or infostealers. The former, on the other hand, is found in the default software Android uses to handle logging into wireless networks and allows hackers to create a malicious clone of legitimate networks. If a victim gets tricked into joining this malicious clone, their traffic can be hijacked.

Patches available

While the vulnerabilities sound ominous, they’re not that easy to exploit. For the first one, the target’s Wi-Fi client needs to be configured not to verify the certificate of the authentication server. Furthermore, the attacker needs to know the SSID of the Wi-Fi network the victim usually connects to and needs to be close enough to be able to connect to it. 

"One possible such scenario might be where an attacker walks around a company's building scanning for networks before targeting an employee leaving the office," the researchers explained.

CVE-2023-52161 was said to affect any network using a Linux device as a wireless access point.

Most Linux distributions (Debian, Red Hat, SUSE, Ubuntu), have all released patches, and so has ChromeOS. An Android fix is still pending.

"In the meantime, it's critical, therefore, that Android users manually configure the CA certificate of any saved enterprise networks to prevent the attack," Top10VPN said.

Via The Hacker News

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.