Secure Wi-Fi? Not so Much -- Gaping Hole Found in WPS Pin System
December 29, 2011 12:42 PM
comment(s) - last by
The Department of Homeland Security suggests the only solution is to disable WPS
NETGEAR, Inc. (
), Cisco System, Inc.'s (
) Linksys, D-Link Corp (
), 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.
[Image Source: Best Wireless Internet Routers Blog]
The flaw reduces the time it takes to crack your average PIN from 10
attempts to 10
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.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
issued a warning
to the public
about the flaw. It
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.
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.
.BrainDump (Stefan Viehbock)
Department of Homeland Security
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
12/29/2011 3:11:06 PM
Thank you for the insight, I didn't realize it was that easy. But I neglected to mention that I also use 128 bit WEP in conjunction with the MAC security. I believe that makes it a pretty secure network.
12/29/2011 3:46:25 PM
Yeah, WEP is also useless.
With just a couple minutes worth of packets sniffed out of the air and a few seconds of computation time, it'll have a good chance of being cracked.
Given 10 minutes where the WEP connection is actually being used and it'll definitely be cracked wide open.
Don't bother with all the sideshow stuff, just use WPA2 encryption (just don't use a silly password like "12345")
12/31/2011 7:56:15 PM
That's the combination on my luggage!
1/3/2012 4:41:25 AM
Anybody who wants to and can use google can access your network in about an hour - assuming they need to learn what to do first :). WEP is completely useless and should never, ever be used if you are being serious about security.
MAC keeps your neighbours off (and WEP will do the same thing) unless they are very determined but it won't keep out anybody serious (or even anybody seriously interested).
WPA2 is the only way to go if you want to ACTUALLY secure your network :). It's super-easy to setup (unlike MAC-based security) - just choose a longish password that's easy to remember. Something like a cheat from your favourite computer game or a quote from a movie is basically impossible for a stranger to crack. "If it bleeds we can kill it" won't be cracked in the lifespan of your router, for example :).
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