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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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RE: Tip
By Trisped on 12/29/2011 5:50:19 PM , Rating: 3
While your MAC is broadcast all over your LAN, those not yet on the LAN (or WLAN) will not yet know it due to encryption of your wireless network.

So in short, a MAC filter list is not a replacement for network encryption (like WPA or WPA2) but it can enhance the security of your network.

Note: I do not recommend WPA as WPA2 has been out long enough that everything supports it, and anything which does not probably has other security issues.

RE: Tip
By TrinityTP on 12/30/2011 8:57:07 AM , Rating: 3
No sorry, the MAC is sent in the clear even with encryption since its how your wireless radio knows the packet is intended for it.

MAC filtering is like a party with a strict guest list where the guest list is on a poster outside the venue.

RE: Tip
By ChronoReverse on 12/30/2011 12:15:24 PM , Rating: 2
And where the "ID" isn't something like a secured ID card or 3D facial recognition but a pencil scrawl on a scrap of paper =)

RE: Tip
By Alexvrb on 12/30/2011 7:58:30 PM , Rating: 2
I use smiley faces.

"Ah, Mr. Frown, we've been expecting you. Strangest thing, I thought I saw you go inside just a moment earlier with Mr. Big Grin. But what the hell do I know, I'm just a stupid router."

So yeah, if they can break your WPA2 (or bypass it entirely with an exploit like this WPS PIN fiasco), MAC filtering won't do jack.

RE: Tip
By TrinityTP on 12/30/2011 8:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
Reservoir Dogs had it right. You are Mr. Pink!

Abstract icons are just a bit too taxing for some these days...

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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