Feeds

Aaah-CHOOO! Brit boffins say WiFi can 'sneeze' malware

Vulnerable access points could spread viruses like that snuffly chapy next to you on the train

Reducing security risks from open source software

While the "head cold" metaphor is a bit laboured, the issue is genuine: a group of researchers from the University of Liverpool have found that WiFi access points are highly efficient at passing around virus infections.

Likening the spread of computer viruses over WiFi as akin to the spread of human viruses in the air, the researchers say once a single access point in (for example) a city is infected, it's easy to pass on the virus to other access points.

The modelling was based on a simulation of the Chameleon WiFi access point virus, being spread in Belfast and London.

In the WiFi environment, Chameleon is a polymorphic virus that arose during 2012. Described here, Chameleon is a firmware-replacement attack that presents false outward-facing credentials from infected machines. It can then steal data from users connecting to the access point.

The University of Liverpool modelling exercise also showed that Chameleon could identify the least-protected access points visible from an infected site, while avoiding detection. Unlike endpoints such as laptops, phones and tablets, WiFi access points aren't watched by anti-virus software, the researchers point out in this release.

A poorly-protected access point is easy to infect, and where there's a high concentration of access points, any infected device is likely to be within view of another vulnerable unit. Once units are within 10-50 metres of each other, the modelling found, the virus propagates very quickly.

“WiFi connections are increasingly a target for computer hackers because of well-documented security vulnerabilities, which make it difficult to detect and defend against a virus,” said University of Liverpool professor of network security Alan Marshall. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
L33t haxxors compete to p0wn popular home routers
EFF-endorsed SOHOpelessly Broken challenge will air routers' dirty zero day laundry
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.