New Attack Could Let Hackers Clone Your Google Titan 2FA Security Keys

Hardware security keys—such as those from Google and Yubico—are considered the most secure means to protect accounts from phishing and takeover attacks.

But a new research published on Thursday demonstrates how an adversary in possession of such a two-factor authentication (2FA) device can clone it by exploiting an electromagnetic side-channel in the chip embedded in it.

The vulnerability (tracked as CVE-2021-3011) allows the bad actor to extract the encryption key or the ECDSA private key linked to a victim’s account from a FIDO Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) device like Google Titan Key or YubiKey, thus completely undermining the 2FA protections.

“The adversary can sign in to the victim’s application account without the U2F device, and without the victim noticing,” NinjaLab researchers Victor Lomne and Thomas Roche said in a 60-page analysis.

“In other words, the adversary created a clone of the U2F device for the victim’s application account. This clone will give access to the application account as long as the legitimate user does not revoke its second factor authentication credentials.”

The whole list of products impacted by the flaw includes all versions of Google Titan Security Key (all versions), Yubico Yubikey Neo, Feitian FIDO NFC USB-A / K9, Feitian MultiPass FIDO / K13, Feitian ePass FIDO USB-C / K21, and Feitian FIDO NFC USB-C / K40.

Besides the security keys, the attack can also be carried out on NXP JavaCard chips, including NXP J3D081_M59_DF, NXP J3A081, NXP J2E081_M64, NXP J3D145_M59, NXP J3D081_M59, NXP J3E145_M64, and NXP J3E081_M64_DF, and their respective variants.

The key-recovery attack, while doubtless severe, needs to meet a number of prerequisites in order to be successful.

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