The Impostor Among US(B): Off-Path Injection Attacks on USB Communications


Robert Dumitru, The University of Adelaide and Defence Science and Technology Group; Daniel Genkin, Georgia Tech; Andrew Wabnitz, Defence Science and Technology Group; Yuval Yarom, The University of Adelaide


USB is the most prevalent peripheral interface in modern computer systems and its inherent insecurities make it an appealing attack vector. A well-known limitation of USB is that traffic is not encrypted. This allows on-path adversaries to trivially perform man-in-the-middle attacks. Off-path attacks that compromise the confidentiality of communications have also been shown to be possible. However, so far no off-path attacks that breach USB communications integrity have been demonstrated.

In this work we show that the integrity of USB communications is not guaranteed even against off-path attackers. Specifically, we design and build malicious devices that, even when placed outside of the path between a victim device and the host, can inject data to that path. Using our developed injectors we can falsify the provenance of data input as interpreted by a host computer system. By injecting on behalf of trusted victim devices we can circumvent any software-based authorisation policy defences that computer systems employ against common USB attacks. We demonstrate two concrete attacks. The first injects keystrokes allowing an attacker to execute commands. The second demonstrates file-contents replacement including during system install from a USB disk. We test the attacks on 29 USB 2.0 and USB 3.x hubs and find 14 of them to be vulnerable.

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@inproceedings {285355,
author = {Robert Dumitru and Daniel Genkin and Andrew Wabnitz and Yuval Yarom},
title = {The Impostor Among {US(B)}: {Off-Path} Injection Attacks on {USB} Communications},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {5863--5880},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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