Feeds

Wi-Fi spoofing sends Jesus phone disciples off the true path

Skyhook, line and sinker

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Punters using Wi-Fi based positioning systems on their mobile devices would do well to look before they leap. Security vulnerabilities have discovered location spoofing flaws in the Skyhook positioning system that might be used to lead users astray.

Devices using Skyhook's Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS), including the iPod touch, iPhone, Nokia mobile phones (running the WPS applet), and PCs (using Skyhook's Loki plugin) are potentially vulnerable to spoofing.

The technology cross references Wi-Fi access points visible at a particular location with entries in a database to work out its position. This position is then used to pinpoint a device's location on a map, from which users can navigate their way around to nearby restaurants or hotels (for example).

Skyhook runs the database that contains data on access points around the world, collected by the firm and supplemented by its users. When a client device wants to find its position it sends data on nearby access points to Skyhook servers, which respond with the location of a client.

However, security researchers at the Department of Computer Science at ETH Zurich University have established that the Skyhook system can be foiled by jamming signals from nearby access points before impersonating an access point at a remote location.

"These two actions create the illusion for localised devices that they are located at positions different from their actual physical positions. Skyhook's WPS system does not rely on fresh and/or authenticated access point signals - it simply requires a device to report Media Access Control (MAC) addresses of the access points that it detects which are compared to signal characteristics recorded before," the researchers explain.

"Since rogue access points can forge their MAC addresses, access point impersonation can be easily done in WPS. Equally, since WLAN signals are easy to jam, signals from legitimate access points can be easily eliminated, thus enabling location spoofing attacks".

The team used an Asus eeePC configured to impersonate access points and software radios to jam legitimate networks.

The researchers hope the work will help to demonstrate the limitations of existing Wi-Fi-based location systems, from other providers as well as Skyhook. Their research is technically interesting, though it's difficult to imagine to what purpose, other than straightforward mischief, attacks based on the approach might be carried out.

The Swiss team's paper on the attacks can be found here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.