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The Department of Homeland Security suggests the only solution is to disable WPS

NETGEAR, Inc. (NTGR), Cisco System, Inc.'s (CSCO) Linksys, D-Link Corp (TPE:2332), and Belkin, Inc. are some of the biggest makers of routers.  If you own a router, there's a good chance you own a router from one of these manufacturers.  And if you own a router from them, there's a good chance you used Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) -- a PIN protected method -- to easily set up your home network.  And that means that there's a good chance your security is now at serious risk.

WPS was dreamed up by the Wi-Fi Alliance as a means of easing the pain of home networking.  But by including a flag in the EAP-NACK message, the standard unwittingly left a gaping hole that can be exploited by hackers to subvert your router.

The message tells the user if the first half of the pin they typed was right.  Thus it drastically reduces the time needed to crack the PIN using a brute force attack.  Add in that the last bit of the PIN is always its checksum, you have a recipe for a security disaster.

Linksys router
[Image Source: Best Wireless Internet Routers Blog]

The flaw reduces the time it takes to crack your average PIN from 108 attempts to 104+103 attempts (11,000 attempts total).  Assuming you can fire off ten requests or more a second, you should be able to crack routers in minutes.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a warning to the public about the flaw.  It advises disabling WPS.  This may be a painful option for less savvy operators, though, as setting up a network with more sophisticated protections can require a bit of learning.

Stefan Viehbock discovered the vulnerability and reported it to the DHS.  He claims that none of the major manufacturers stepped up to the plate with a patch.  He is going to release a C-coded exploitation tool shortly -- perhaps that will help prompt the business into action.

Sources: .BrainDump (Stefan Viehbock), Department of Homeland Security





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