Sharon Goldberg

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RADIUS/UDP vulnerable to improved MD5 collision attack

The MD5 cryptographic hash function was first broken in 2004, when researchers demonstrated the first MD5 collision, namely two different messages X1 and X2 where MD5(X1) = MD5 (X2). Over the years, attacks on MD5 have only continued to improve, getting faster and more effective against real protocols. But despite continuous advancements in cryptography, MD5 has lurked in network protocols for years, and is still playing a critical role in some protocols even today.

One such protocol is RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service). RADIUS was first designed in 1991 – during the era of dial-up Internet – but it remains an important authentication protocol used for remote access to routers, switches, and other networking gear by users and administrators. In addition to being used in networking environments, RADIUS is sometimes also used in industrial control systems.  RADIUS traffic is still commonly transported over UDP in the clear, protected only by outdated cryptographic constructions based on MD5.

In this post, we present an improved attack against MD5 and use it to exploit all authentication modes of RADIUS/UDP apart from those that use EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol). The attack allows a Monster-in-the-Middle (MitM) with access to RADIUS traffic Continue reading