Authentication is Hard

Cisco announced that it’s wireless access points have an authentication bypass.

The most crucial one is CVE-2019-15260, which could be exploited by attackers by requesting specific URLs from an affected AP and allow them to gain access to the device with elevated privileges.

Kubernetes announced that anyone can be admin by tampering with headers.

…attackers could exploit the bug to authenticate as any user by crafting an invalid header that would go through to the server.

Palo Alto provided an example: “An attacker may send the following request to the proxy: ‘X-Remote-User : admin.’ If the proxy is designed to filter X-Remote-User headers but doesn’t recognize the header because it’s invalid and forwards it to the Kubernetes API server [anyway], the attacker would successfully pass the API request with the roles of the ‘admin’ user.”

Google announced its phones have a facial recognition bypass (you don’t have to be awake).

Google has confirmed the Pixel 4 smartphone’s Face Unlock system can allow access to a person’s device even if they have their eyes closed.

Samsung announced that its phones have a fingerprint reader bypass.

The issue was spotted by a British woman whose husband was able to unlock her phone with his thumbprint just by adding a cheap screen protector.

When the S10 was launched, in March, Samsung described the fingerprint authentication system as “revolutionary”.

…and if anyone remembers 2002 security mailing lists, biometric failure such as Samsung’s was framed as having an important moral.

Matsumoto tried these attacks against eleven commercially available fingerprint biometric systems, and was able to reliably fool all of them. The results are enough to scrap the systems completely, and to send the various fingerprint biometric companies packing. Impressive is an understatement.

There’s both a specific and a general moral to take away from this result. Matsumoto is not a professional fake-finger scientist; he’s a mathematician. He didn’t use expensive equipment or a specialized laboratory. He used $10 of ingredients you could buy, and whipped up his gummy fingers in the equivalent of a home kitchen. And he defeated eleven different commercial fingerprint readers, with both optical and capacitive sensors, and some with “live finger detection” features. (Moistening the gummy finger helps defeat sensors that measure moisture or electrical resistance; it takes some practice to get it right.) If he could do this, then any semi-professional can almost certainly do much much more.

Look at how far we’ve come in 17 years.

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