Monday, October 13, 2014

Attacking Wi-Fi Clients: Introduction

During the last decade, an uncountable number of articles, whitepapers and presentations have been published about Wi-Fi security, hacking, attacks and defenses. Most of that research, including attack techniques and tools, has focused on the infrastructure side, that is, Wi-Fi access points (APs) and networks. These have been the main targets since the early WEP weaknesses announced around 2001. As the Wi-Fi technologies matured, and assuming nowadays (with the right skills and knowledge) it is possible to build a robust and reasonably secure Wi-Fi network, Wi-Fi attacks started to move towards the client side a few years ago. However, despite Wi-Fi client attacks got some early attention around 2005 (thanks to Karma), they blurred over the years. Attacks focused on the Wi-Fi clients have evolved slowly, progressively, sometimes silently but significantly since then, nevertheless from an end user awareness perspective, corporate security perspective, or even from the point of view of major industry leaders and vendors, they have not been taken seriously enough. The reality is that, still today, Wi-Fi clients present multiple vulnerable behaviors that can be leveraged for targeted attacks or even mass exploitation. The situation can only get worse in the upcoming Internet of Things (IoT) or the Wi-Fi Internet of Everything (IoE) age:



On the one hand, the current Wi-Fi client vulnerabilities and misbehaviors might allow an attacker (or pen-tester; I will use the term 'attacker' from now on) to accurately fingerprint specific targets, with significant personal privacy and tracking implications. On the other hand, they can be used to force a victim Wi-Fi client to reveal the networks it is trying to connect to, their security type, and even the associated Wi-Fi network key or user credentials. Additionally, the attacker might force the target Wi-Fi client to connect to its own network, an scenario that opens the door to a huge range of traditional network-based attacks.

The following list briefly outlines multiple aspects that are relevant when describing these kind of Wi-Fi client weaknesses and attacks. These topics are going to be covered in future installments of this "Attacking Wi-Fi Clients" DinoSec blog post series, following this introduction:
  • First of all, it is crucial to understand how modern Wi-Fi clients behave, discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks, including the different options available for the end user to select a new network, as well as the technical details and 802.11 frames involved in the process.
  • One critical element that is involved in that selection and connection process is the Preferred Network List (PNL), that is, a local client repository (or database) that contains the list of known Wi-Fi networks the client has connected to in the past.
  • From a security perspective, the way the PNL is used by Wi-Fi clients determines the attack opportunities. Multiple factors influence the PNL usage, including if the client connects automatically to known networks, which network is selected when multiple known networks are available, what specific Wi-Fi network details the identification process is based on, etc.
  • In addition to the PNL usage, the PNL management features available for the end user (or corporate environment) also determine the PNL contents and the defensive capabilities. Wi-Fi clients should provide features to fully manage the PNL, including its visualization, selecting the priority of the different networks available in the PNL, as well as management options to add, delete or edit all the properties of any Wi-Fi network contained inside the PNL. However, we are currently facing various challenges, such as anomalies to be able to properly manage the Wi-Fi PNL (Preferred Network List) in modern mobile devices, like iOS, or even in traditional operating systems whose previous versions had the required capabilities, like Windows 8. The iOS constraints can be partially overcome by skilled users or enterprises via the iStupid tool (that I already described in several previous blog posts).
  • Unfortunately, and although some traditional Wi-Fi clients fixed this specific vulnerable behavior a few years ago, still today several Wi-Fi clients disclose the contents of their PNL for free. There are multiple scenarios and reasons where Wi-Fi clients unnecessarily reveal their PNL all over the air (the details will be covered latter in the series). For example, multiple vulnerabilities have been published since 2010 affecting modern mobile devices and the way a new Wi-Fi network is manually added by the user to the PNL through the user interface. Anyone monitoring the wireless traffic can easily obtain the details of the PNL, and as a result, identify the list of Wi-Fi networks the client device is trying to connect to.
  • The fact that Wi-Fi clients still disclose their PNL for free today, together with its MAC address, entails significant privacy implications and security risks. Although recently the EFF emphasized the associated privacy risks, something we knew about wireless pervasive technologies since around 2008, the main concern must be centered on the security threats. Anyone that identifies the PNL of a given target, that is the list of Wi-Fi networks the client device is trying to connect to, can easily impersonate these legitimate networks through a fake AP. As a result, multiple attack scenarios are viable, depending on the security mechanisms used by the legitimate network. By the way, the legitimate Wi-Fi network security type can be easily identified using different impersonation techniques.
  • The simplest and easiest scenario is targeting an open Wi-Fi network, as only the network name is required to impersonate the legitimate network and get the victim client to automatically connect to it. However, even for the security conscious (or "paranoid") user, that never ever connects to an open (or WEP-based network), there are additional security risks to consider.
  • When a WEP or WPA(2)-PSK network is impersonated, the legitimate Wi-Fi network key is required for the victim client to establish a connection with the fake AP. There are two WEP-based attacks that can obtain the original key from the victim Wi-Fi client: Caffe-Latte and Hirte. Similarly, for WPA(2)-PSK networks it is possible to capture two frames of the initial 4-way WPA(2) handshake in an AP-less scenario with the goal of cracking the PSK via dictionary attacks or rainbowtables (for the name of that specific Wi-Fi network). These kind of attacks provide two benefits to the attacker: On the one hand, the valid key for the legitimate network can be obtained, therefore, if the location of that legitimate network is known or can be obtained through other methods, the attacker would be able to connect to it. On the other hand, the victim client will connect to the attacker's network regardless of where the attack is taking place.
  • Finally, Wi-Fi network impersonation attacks focusing specifically on Wi-Fi Enterprise networks based on 802.1x/EAP can use various offensive methods to obtain the user enterprise credentials, and once again, even get full client connectivity between the victim and the attacker (in some scenarios). The following handmade draft table shows four different Wi-Fi enterprise client attacks, including their main pros and cons, FreeRADIUS-WPE, EAP LEAP-Down, EAP Dumb-Down, and LEAP2PEAP Relay:
  • Once the network is shared at layer 1 & 2 (and above) between the attacker and the victim, traditional full Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attacks are possible, via ARP poisoning and other TCP/IP (and upper protocols and services) tricks.
  • Besides attacking Wi-Fi clients using legitimate 802.11 traffic through a fake AP, it is possible to manipulate 802.11 frames to launch other types of attacks, such as Denail of Service (DoS) attacks affecting specific Wi-Fi chipsets, launch web-based injection attacks throughout 802.11 frames, or go deeper into the almost forgotten 802.11 driver attacks.
  • Finally, understanding in detail these weaknesses and attacks, as well as the associated countermeasures and defensive opportunities and alternatives both at the user and the enterprise level, is the only way to properly mitigate the risk against these real-world Wi-Fi client attacks.
Some related contents are available on my RootedCON 2013 presentation, named "Wi-Fi: Why iOS (Android & others) Fail inexplicably" (video available in Spanish), and several presentations that followed and were part of a subsequent awareness campaign I did at the end of 2013 and early 2014.

How Can I Start Taking a Look At The Wi-Fi Client Activities Around Me?

As this introduction is mainly theoretical, for the curious readers that cannot wait until the publication of the next blog post in this series and want to start taking a look at the Wi-Fi client activities around them, and the potential disclosure of the PNL from vulnerable Wi-Fi clients, there are a few options, depending on the operating system you plan to use: Linux, OS X or Windows

In Linux you only need to have a Wi-Fi card that supports monitor (or RFMON) mode. Configure the card in monitor mode (via the "airmon-ng" command available in the aircrack-ng suite, or by directly using the "iw phy phy0 interface add mon0 type monitor" command), and start using Wireshark (or tshark from the command line) to capture the traffic from that specific Wi-Fi interface (commonly identified as "mon0").

In OS X you can follow similar steps when using the default 802.11 Airport Extreme Wi-Fi card. From the "Capture - Options..." menu in Wireshark, by double clicking on the Wi-Fi card (commonly identified as "en1"), the interface can be configured in monitor mode via the "Capture packets in monitor mode" option.

In Windows, although there have been significant constraints to put Wi-Fi cards in monitor mode in the past, thanks to Acrylic Wi-Fi you can configure its associated Wi-Fi driver in monitor mode for your built-in Wi-Fi card. By running Wireshark as Administrator, start capturing traffic from the Acrylic Wi-Fi driver, named with the prefix "Acrylic NDIS" followed by the name of your native Wi-Fi card in the "Capture Interfaces" windows in Wireshark (available from the "Capture -> Interfaces..." menu). If you want to use tshark instead from the command line, using a command promt (cmd.exe) running as Administrator, run "tshark.exe" with the "-D" option to identify all the network interfaces available. The Acrylic Wi-Fi driver associated to your card (in this case, ID number 3) will look like this:
...
3. \\.\airpcap11_{ABC...-...-...DEF}-{012...-...-...789}-0000 (Acrylic NDIS <your_Wi-Fi_card_name>)


If you are using Wireshark, your favorite display filter in order to capture the 802.11 probe request frames that may disclose specific names for the Wi-Fi networks contained in the PNL of vulnerable Wi-Fi clients should be:

(wlan.fc.type_subtype == 0x04) && !(wlan_mgt.ssid == "")

If you are using tshark from the command line, you can use the following command in order to extract some of the most relevant details from the same interesting 802.11 probe request frames:

(Linux, OS X & Windows; simply change the Wi-Fi interface name with the "-i" option)
C:\Temp>tshark -i 3 -n -l -s 0 -T fields -E separator=, -E quote=d -e wlan.sa -e
 radiotap.dbm_antsignal -e wlan_mgt.ssid -Y "wlan.fc.type_subtype == 4 and !(wla
n_mgt.ssid == \"\")"

or
$ sudo tshark -i mon0 ...


Shameless Plug - "Attacking Wi-Fi Clients: Hands-on Workshop"

I have authored a hands-on technical workshop, called "Attacking Wi-Fi Clients" (or "T├ęcnicas de ataque sobre clientes Wi-Fi" in Spanish), with the goal of bringing together real-world personal experience, research, and pen-testing tips & tricks for Wi-Fi client attacks collected during the last few years. The workshop covers in-depth all the topics of the upcoming "Attacking Wi-Fi Clients" DinoSec blog post series (of which this is the first installment), and much more... The material is available in English and is delivered both in English or Spanish.

This workshop  focuses on providing the attendees real-world hands-on experience identifying and researching Wi-Fi clients weaknesses, and executing multiple Wi-Fi client attacks in different scenarios, with specific emphasis in the layer 2 802.11 and associated protocols, like 802.1x/EAP, versus more traditional TCP/IP client attacks. The attendees get their own Alfa Wi-Fi USB card (in particular the current best model identified for this kind of Wi-Fi client offensive activities) and leave the workshop with a fully functional virtual machine based environment ready for Wi-Fi pen-testing activities or deeper research and vulnerability discovery. At the end of the session, the defensive countermeasures required to mitigate the previously covered Wi-Fi attacks are also analyzed. The workshop is available in both a very intense one-day session (bootcamp style) or in a two-day extended format, that can be delivered in both security conferences and private onsite events (contact me if you are interested).

The first sold-out workshop session took place during the RootedCON trainings (called RootedLabs) on March 3, 2014, with very good feedback from the audience. Recently, the workshop has been significantly updated for an upcoming session that will take place in about three weeks during the NoConName (NcN) trainings (October 30, 2014). The NcN workshop price includes a conference ticket, so... if you are in Spain at the end of this month and speak Spanish, you cannot miss it! :-) My goal by offering this highly specialized but affordable workshop is focused on helping to improve the overall quality of Wi-Fi security pen-tests and assessments, and in particular, in identifying the current Wi-Fi clients risks and threats, while promoting future additional related Wi-Fi research in the upcoming Wi-Fi Internet of Everything (IoE) era (contributing to the health and wealth of the Spanish security conferences and local security community is an added value :-)

Image source: http://www.wi-fi.org/sites/default/files/images/IoE_Graphic.jpg
Image source: http://www.wi-fi.org/sites/default/files/images/Wi-Fi_Connect_your_life.jpg

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