Feeds

Wireless network security weakness to demo at DEFCON

Et tu, WPA2?

Website security in corporate America

Security researchers have discovered security shortcomings in the WPA2 protocol that threaten the security of wireless networks, even if they are running up-to-date security software.

The hack involves generating arbitrary broadcast packets from a spoofed node that trick legitimate nodes in a targeted network into responding with queries that give away information about their secret keys. The traffic does not, of course, give away the private key directly, but it does provide enough clues for this information to be extracted by subsequent cryptanalysis and high-end number crunching.

The attack was discovered by wireless security experts at AirTight Networks, who found it was possible to spoof the MAC address of a kosher access point by adding just 10 lines of code to the open source Madwifi driver and running this software on a standard PC, H Security reports. However, for the attack to succeed, hackers already need to be internal, authorised users of targeted networks.

WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) is the strongest security algorithm for wireless network currently available. It's already widely used in enterprises and increasingly popular in Wi-Fi hotspots. WPA2 is the successor to the earlier WPA standard, which itself followed WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), an amateurish first stab at wireless security that was riddled with serious security holes and easy to break right from the start.

The comparatively minor security shortcomings of WPA2 – which are more at interested to cryptographic security researchers than would-be wireless hackers – stem from security holes in IEEE 802.11 standard rather than implementation bugs. Although not suitable for external hackers the security flaw does present plenty of scope for mischief, according to a pre-talk advisory from AirTight, chiefly as a potential way to spy on supposedly encrypted traffic or to plant malware.

Exploiting the vulnerability, an insider can bypass WPA2 private key encryption and authentication to sniff and decrypt data from other authorized users as well as scan their Wi-Fi devices for vulnerabilities, install malware and possibly compromise those Wi-Fi devices.

Sohail Ahmad, senior wireless security researcher for AirTight Networks, is due to demo his findings at the Black Hat and later DEFCON18 conferences in Las Vegas this week. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.