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UCR demonstrates weakness found in Linux and Android TCP since 2012

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Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have identified a weakness in the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) of all Linux operating systems since late 2012 that enables attackers to hijack users’ internet communications completely remotely.

Such a weakness could be used to launch targeted attacks that track users’ online activity, forcibly terminate a communication, hijack a conversation between hosts or degrade the privacy guarantee by anonymity networks such as Tor.

Led by Yue Cao, a computer science graduate student in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, the research will be presented on Wednesday (Aug. 10) at the USENIX Security Symposium in Austin, Texas. The project advisor is Zhiyun Qian, an assistant professor of computer science at UCR whose research focuses on identifying security vulnerabilities to help software companies improve their systems.

While most users don’t interact directly with the Linux operating system, the software runs behind-the -scenes on internet servers, android phones and a range of other devices. To transfer information from one source to another, Linux and other operating systems use the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to package and send data, and the Internet Protocol (IP) to ensure the information gets to the correct destination.

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