Feeds

UK's most popular Wi-Fi router defaults to insecurity

Come and get it

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

From the folks at security think tank GNUCitizen comes yet another demonstration of the insecurity that's present by default in the UK's most popular home broadband router.

By default, the BT Home Hub, which is manufactured by Thomson/Alcatel, uses a weak algorithm to generate keys used for locking down a Wi-Fi network. So weak, in fact, that Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) keys can be predicted in just 80 guesses on average. GNUCitizen has written a program to automate the guessing game, but has decided not to release it for the time being.

It's been known for some time that WEP is not a reliable way to secure a Wi-Fi network. But the GNUCitizen's research, which is based on work by ethical hacker Kevin Devine, takes this understanding a step further. It allows the router to be cracked without the use of special hardware or software that's a hassle to configure and use.

The research also affects those using the much more robust Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) to secure their BT Home Hub. Because the algorithm uses a predictable means to determine the WPA, an attacker can easily determine the pass phrase (should the default encryption key value be used).

GNUCitizen has exposed other weaknesses in the router, including a VoIP hijacking vulnerability and the ability for attackers to bypass password protections. BT fixed both those issues shortly after they were brought to light.

BT spokesman Adam Liversage said the company is aware of the weakness and encourages people to change the default settings of WEP with a pre-set wireless key to WPA with a random key. Liversage said BT didn't believe any customers have been affected by the default settings, although he didn't explain how the company could even know.

The company has published instructions here that walks customers through the process of securing the device. If you fail to heed them, don't say we didn't warn you. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
SHELLSHOCKED: Fortune 1000 outfits Bash out batches of patches
CloudPassage points to 'pervasive' threat of Bash bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.