A new cyberattack that is being called WiKI-Eve has been observed stealing certain passwords over Wi-Fi with a 90% success rate in most modern routers built since 2013.
The attack exploits a vulnerability in the beamforming feedback information (BFI) technology that has graced our routers since the introduction of 802.11ac, otherwise known as Wi-Fi 5.
The research, which comes from academics belonging to two Chinese universities and one Singaporean university, demonstrates how hackers can ‘overhear,’ thus intercept, the clear-text being transmitted between device and router.
Connected to Wi-Fi? Chances are, you may be at risk
According to the researchers, WiKI-Eve “achieves 88.9% inference accuracy for individual keystrokes and up to 65.8% top-10 accuracy for stealing passwords of mobile applications.”
A separate SafetyDetectives study shows 13 of the top 30 most commonly used passwords comprise just numbers, stating that “numeric patterns are worldwide favorites.”
The paper goes on to call WiKI-Eve “the first WiFi-based hack-free keystroke eavesdropping system,” adding that the device an attacker chooses to use can be as discrete as a mobile device that supports monitor mode by the Wi-Fi NIC.
Describing a hypothetical situation in which a victim harmlessly connects to a public network, the researchers state that a password securely entered into a legitimate site is not as secure as one would hope, thanks to this vulnerability introduced with Wi-Fi 5 routers.
In a bid to demonstrate just how easy it is for an attacker to obtain information about a user, the team goes on to set up a real-world case study where they are able to access a set-up victim’s WeChat Pay information when using an iPhone, alluding to compromised credentials and even information about the digital payment.
While the theoretical and lab-grown examples produce alarming results, real-world executions of such attacks are fortunately less common, however the study plays an important role in demonstrating the clear need for improved wireless security moving forward.