Feeds

Hexing MAC address reveals Wifi passwords

Researcher says Belkin boxen at risk of simple substitution attack

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Update The default WPA2-PSK passphrase used in some Belkin routers simply replaces a character of the device’s MAC address with another hecxadecimal character, according to security blogger Jakob Lell.

Lell describes the situation as follows:

Each of the eight characters of the default passphrase are created by substituting a corresponding hex-digit of the WAN MAC address using a static substitution table. Since the WAN MAC address is the WLAN MAC address + one or two (depending on the model), a wireless attacker can easily guess the wan mac address of the device and thus calculate the default WPA2 passphrase.

In either case, that’s problematic because it is possible to interrogate WiFi routers in order to learn their MAC address. Some models even advertise the address on the case of the device!

Lell’s revelation, which he says makes it possible to deduce passwords by drawing up a simple substitution table, means all an attacker needs to do to compromise a device is learn its MAC address and then spend a few minutes converting it into Hex.

Lell’s post on the topic suggests Belkin’s Surf N150 Model F7D1301v1, N900 Model F9K1104v1 and N450 Model F9K1105V2 are all susceptible to the attack.

He also writes that other routers may have the same issue, with only the substitution table differing.

“It is likely that other Belkin devices are affected as well,” Lell’s post says, adding that he has tried to engage the company on the issue since January 2012, without success. “Unfortunately, Belkin has not yet cooperated with us to fix the vulnerability and/or confirm a list of other affected devices,” he says.

The good news is that users need only change the password to make the poorly-coded default codes irrelevant. And we all know users are always diligent about that kind of chore and would never leave a system in an insecure state.

Belkin has responded to The Register's inquiries, saying "We have been made aware of the work recently published by two researchers at the Technische Universität Berlin regarding the default security configuration of Belkin routers, and appreciate their contribution to improved Wi-Fi security."

The responses goes on to say the company is "reviewing the details of the published research to understand its full implications" and will fix the problem if necessary, "so as to ensure our users continue to benefit from the maximum level of security possible while also guaranteeing interoperability and ease of use.” ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
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
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
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.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.