Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — February 2, 2010 – A security vulnerability in the ChipCon (CC) implementation of ZigBee used in the CC2430 series of chips running Z-Stack software that is commonly used in smart grid applications has been fixed, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced.
The problem was identified as a weakness in the pseudorandom number generation routine, in an attack published by researcher Travis Goodspeed in early January. The results of a successful attack would allow the attacker to easily guess cryptographic keys and thereby join the ZigBee mesh network and decrypt the traffic, i.e. in the home area network (HAN) portion of the smart grid. While control of the HAN should not give control of privileged functions on a meter such as remote disconnect, breaking the HAN does give the attackers more options for attacking the AMI system as a whole, which may lead to greater threats.
Texas Instruments (TI) has released a product update, TI ZStack 2.3.0 – 1.4.0, which is aimed at mitigating this vulnerability. ChipCon was recently acquired by TI, and the popularity of the CC2430 chips is due to their low cost and low power consumption.
Other available mitigations include using a strong random number generator on another chip, using a stronger algorithm to generate random numbers, or seeding the hardware random number generator more often, the Department states in an advisory.