Wireless Vulnerability Highlights Need for Automated Security


Upgrade your wireless cards' firmware.


That's not the most comforting advice, but it's the best we can offer in the wake of news that many wireless card drivers are open to rootkit attacks.


Hackers/researchers (one of whom works for a security firm) were able to take over a high-end Mac notebook in under a minute during a taped demo presented at the Black Hat security conference. The researchers stressed that the flaw was with the wireless card driver, not the board or OS, and that the vulnerability they were demonstrating is widespread across many wireless vendors' gear.


Like Intel, for example. The hardware giant has released a 129MB patch for several of its Centrino cards after disclosure of vulnerabilities similar to those demoed at the Black Hat show. The flaws were so severe that security vendor Sophos went so far as to say that, theoretically, they could be used to spread worms wirelessly from a laptop -- without any explicit user action.


Basically, once a hacker is able to get a rootkit on your system, they've got you. The hard-to-detect Trojans can be used to sniff out passwords and circumvent even the most hale perimeter defenses. They are bad news.


Fortunately, Intel reports no actual exploits of the Centrino flaws that it has patched.


An F-Secure source quoted by silicon.com says the manual Centrino patch is clumsy and may well turn off many consumers. That's more evidence of why enterprise IT shops need to take total control of mobile end-point security, including automated patching and vulnerability assessment.

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