For a while now, the security industry has known that WEP encryption is terribly insecure. This information has more or less seeped into the general knowledge of society. What may not be known is that WPA and WPA2-PSK are also quite vulnerable. In the past it was deemed impractical to try and brute force the password of a network. Processors just weren’t fast enough to get the job done within someone’s lifetime. This belief is now being overturned as powerful GPU’s are hitting the market, featuring many processing cores just waiting to be utilized. So what is it about the WPA and WPA2 standard that make them now insecure? I’m glad you asked.
What Makes WPA And WPA2-PSK Now Insecure:
It’s all about the Pre Shared Key, or PSK for short. According to Pyrit’s website:
WPA/WPA2-PSK is a subset of WPA/WPA2 that skips the complex task of key distribution and client authentication by assigning every participating party the same Pre Shared Key. This master key is derived from a password which the administrating user has to pre-configure e.g. on his laptop and the Access Point. When the laptop creates a connection to the Access Point, a new session key is derived from the master key to encrypt and authenticate following traffic. This “shortcut” eases deployment of WPA/WPA2-protected networks for home- and small-office-use at the cost of making the protocol vulnerable to brute-force-attacks against it’s key negotiation phase; it allows attackers to ultimately reveal the password that protects the network. This vulnerability has to be considered exceptionally disastrous as the protocol allows much of the key derivation to be pre-computed, making simple brute-force-attacks even more alluring to the attacker.
Now that we know why the system is vulnerable, we need to get a few things together.