Feeds

Researcher cracks Wi-Fi passwords with Amazon cloud

Return of the Caveman attack

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

A security researcher has tapped Amazon's cloud computing service to crack Wi-Fi passwords in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of using his own gear.

Thomas Roth of Cologne, Germany told Reuters he used custom software running on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service to break into a WPA-PSK protected network in about 20 minutes. With refinements to his program, he said he could shave the time to about six minutes. With EC2 computers available for 28 cents per minute, the cost of the crack came to just $1.68.

“People tell me there is no possible way to break WPA, or, if it were possible, it would cost you a ton of money to do so,” Roth told the news service. “But it is easy to brute force them.”

Roth is the same researcher who in November used Amazon's cloud to brute force SHA-1 hashes. Roth said he cracked 14 hashes from a 160-bit SHA-1 hash with a password of between one and six characters in about 49 minutes. He told The Register at the time he'd be able to significantly reduce that time with minor tweaks to his software, which made use of “Cluster GPU Instances” of the EC2 service.

As the term suggests, brute force cracks are among the least sophisticated means of gaining unauthorized access to a network. Rather than exploit weaknesses, they try huge numbers of possible passwords until the right phrase is entered. Roth has combined this caveman approach with a highly innovative technique that applies it to extremely powerful servers that anyone can rent at highly affordable rates.

Roth's latest program uses EC2 to run through 400,000 possible passwords per second, a massive amount that only a few years ago would have required the resources of a supercomputer. He is scheduled to present his findings at next week's Black Hat security conference in Washington, DC. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.