Secure Wi-Fi? Not so Much -- Gaping Hole Found in WPS Pin System
December 29, 2011 12:42 PM
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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
12/30/2011 8:44:41 AM
No its correct. GRC's estimate is only valid if you pick numbers/letters/symbols at random. The point xkcd was making is people take a simple word "Troubadour" and replace a few letters with similar numbers and symbols "Tr0ub4dour" and add a number and/or symbol to the end. Common passwords have typically no more than about 2.5bits of entropy per character and a few number substitutions only add a few extra bits to the whole password.
Nobody would try to brute force the whole password keyspace as it would take too long so you use things like john-the-ripper to expand a common password dictionary with the standard substitutions people make.
So yet again Steve Gibson's security "advice" is less useful than a comic, he should have stuck to fixing hard drives he was actually good that that...
"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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