Limitations of wpa_disable_eapol_key_retries option to work around key reinstallation attacks

Timo Sigurdsson public_timo.s at
Fri Oct 20 03:03:50 PDT 2017


commit 6f234c1e (Optional AP side workaround for key reinstallation attacks)
introduced the new option wpa_disable_eapol_key_retries to help mitigate the
key installation attacks from the access point side in case some clients
cannot be patched.

This option has also been quickly adopted by some distributions such as LEDE.
In their release announcement for the 17.01.4 release, the LEDE team notes[1]:
	As some client devices might never receive an update, an optional AP-side
	workaround was introduced in hostapd to complicate these attacks, slowing
	them down. Please note that this does not fully protect you from them,
	especially when running older versions of wpa_supplicant vulnerable to
	CVE-2017-13086, which the workaround does not address.

Now, I understand that an attack against the PeerKey handshake (CVE-2017-13086)
cannot be addressed with this new hostapt workaround. Yet, as the researchers
who found those vulnerabilities also noted in their paper, the impact of this
specific attack is rather low since not many devices seem to support this
particular feature in the first place[2].

This leaves me wondering, what other limitations the hostapd workaround
wpa_disable_eapol_key_retries might have with regards to mitigating the key
reinstallation attacks. Are there any other known limitations aside from the
PeerKey attack and the fact that the workaround might cause interoperability
issues with clients? Can anybody elaborate what "slowing them down" (LEDE
release notes) as opposed to "work around key reinstallation attacks" (original
commit message[3]) might mean?

(I have asked this on the LEDE forums before, btw, and it was suggested to
take this question to the hostapd mailing list.)

I appreaciate any clarification someone might have on these questions.




More information about the Hostap mailing list