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WPA keys gone in 60 seconds

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Networking nerds claim to have devised a way of breaking Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) encryption within 60 seconds.

The technique, developed by Toshihiro Ohigashi of Hiroshima University and Masakatu Morii of Kobe University, is based on the established Becks-Tews method, which involves making minor changes to packets encrypted with TKIP - Temporal Key Integrity Protocol, a WPA security mechamism - and then sending those packets back to the access point.

However, the Becks-Tews method is known to take anywhere between ten and 15 minutes to execute.

In a recently released paper, Ohigashi and Morii proposed a man-in-the-middle style of attack – also used by the Beck-Tews approach – in which a user’s communication is intercepted by an attacker.

This approach carries a high risk of detection, the pair admitted, so being able to shorten the attack time down to under one minute is a major advantage – to potential hackers, at least.

Ohigashi’s and Morii’s technique doesn’t work in WPA 2 – the AES-based successor to WPA.

The pair will formally unveil their technique at a conference in Hiroshima, Japan late next month. ®

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