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Informational Wi-Fi traffic can be used as covert communication channel for malware

Lucian Constantin | Nov. 7, 2014
A security researcher has developed a tool to demonstrate how the unauthenticated data packets in the 802.11 wireless LAN protocol can be used as a covert channel to control malware on an infected computer.

If the output is too large, it can be spread across multiple probe request frames and the program running on the attacker's computer can reconstruct it.

The Smuggler tool has components to automate this two-way communication process on both the attacker and the victim side. Neaves used it to implement an interactive shell that allowed him to remotely execute commands on an infected computer and see their output via a local terminal window.

"I am not going to release Smuggler just yet," he said. "The objective of this post is that I wanted to share my findings of abusing a protocol in a way not intended and use it for bad things, such as creating this covert two-way communications channel without associating or authenticating. I have also created Anti-Smuggler to demonstrate that it is possible to detect such attacks."

 

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