Gogo Inflight Wifi Service Goes Man-In-The-Middle, Issues Fake Google SSL Certificates
from the 'trusted-partner,'-my-ass dept
When you’re flying, your internet connection is completely in the hands of a single company. There’s no searching around for another signal. So, however the provider decides to handle your connection, that’s what you’re stuck with. A captive audience usually results in fun things like high prices and connection throttling. And, if you’re Gogo Inflight, it means compromising the security of every traveler who chooses to use the service, just because you can.
Gogo Inflight Internet seems to believe that they are justified in performing a man-in-the-middle attack on their users. Adrienne Porter Felt, an engineer that is a part of the Google Chrome security team, discovered while on a flight that she was being served SSL certificates from Gogo when she was requesting Google sites. Looking at the issuer of the certificate, rather than being issued by Google, it was being issued by Gogo.
The bogus certificate was captured in a screenshot tweeted out by Felt.
— Adrienne Porter Felt (@__apf__) January 2, 2015
Now, Gogo Inflight likely has several reasons why it would perform a MITM attack on its users, but none of them justify stripping away previously existing security layers. The company loves to datamine and it definitely makes an effort to “shape” traffic by curtailing use of data-heavy sites. It also, as Steven Johns at Neowin points out, is an enthusiastic participant in law enforcement and investigative activities, going above and beyond what’s actually required of service providers.
In designing its existing network, Gogo worked closely with law enforcement to incorporate functionalities and protections that would serve public safety and national security interests. Gogo’s network is fully compliant with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (“CALEA”). The Commission’s ATG rules do not require licensees to implement capabilities to support law enforcement beyond those outlined in CALEA. Nevertheless, Gogo worked with federal agencies to reach agreement regarding a set of additional capabilities to accommodate law enforcement interests. Gogo then implemented those functionalities into its system design.
The airlines on whose planes the Services are available do not collect any information through your use of the Services, but we may share certain types of information with such airlines, as described below. Please remember that this policy only covers your activities while on the Gogo Domains; to the extent you visit third party websites, including the websites of our airline partners, the privacy policies of those websites will govern.
Except that those policies can’t govern, not when their underlying security has been compromised by fake Gogo SSL certificates.
The solution for travelers is to skip the service entirely, or run everything through a VPN. Gogo welcomes the use of VPNs for greater security, but even this wording is at odds with what it’s actually doing.
Gogo does support secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Secure Shell (SSH) access. If you have VPN, Gogo recommends that you use secure VPN protocols for greater security. SSL-encrypted websites or pages, typically indicated by “https” in the address field and a “lock” icon, can also generally be accessed through the Gogo Services. You should be aware, however, that data packets from un-encrypted Wi-Fi connections can be captured by technically advanced means when they are transmitted between a user’s Device and the Wi-Fi access point. You should therefore take precautions to lower your security risks.
Again, precautions are moot if Gogo deliberately inserts itself into the transmission with bogus certificates.