Security researchers have unveiled details of two critical vulnerabilities in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chips embedded in millions of access points and networking devices used by enterprises around the world.
Dubbed BleedingBit, the set of two vulnerabilities could allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary code and take full control of vulnerable devices without authentication, including medical devices such as insulin pumps and pacemakers, as well as point-of-sales and IoT devices.
Discovered by researchers at Israeli security firm Armis, the vulnerabilities exist in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Stack chips made by Texas Instruments (TI) that are being used by Cisco, Meraki, and Aruba in their enterprise line of products.
Armis is the same security firm that last year discovered BlueBorne, a set of nine zero-day Bluetooth-related flaws in Android, Windows, Linux and iOS that affected billions of devices, including smartphones, laptops, TVs, watches and automobile audio systems.
First BleedingBit RCE Vulnerability in BLE Chips (CVE-2018-16986)
The first vulnerability, identified as CVE-2018-16986, exists in TI chips CC2640 and CC2650 and affects many Cisco and Meraki’s Wi-Fi access points. The bug takes advantage of a loophole in the way Bluetooth chips analyze incoming data.
According to the researchers, sending more traffic to a BLE chip than it’s supposed to handle causes memory corruption, commonly known as a buffer overflow attack, which could allow an attacker to run malicious code on an affected device.
“First, the attacker sends multiple benign BLE broadcast messages, called Advertising Packets, which will be stored on the memory of the vulnerable BLE chip in the targeted device,” researchers explained.
“Next, the attacker sends the overflow packet, which is a standard advertising packet with a subtle alteration – a specific bit in its header turned ON instead of off. This bit causes the chip to allocate the information from the packet a much larger space than it really needs, triggering an overflow of critical memory in the process.”
It should be noted that the initial attack requires a hacker to be in the physical proximity of a targeted device, but once compromised, they can take control of the access point, allowing them to intercept network traffic, install persistent backdoor on the chip, or launch more attacks on other connected devices over the Internet.