This week, several news seemed to shake the basement of WIFI security. The first news was about WPA/WPA2 and the second one about WEP.
ElcomSoft is a company that designs tools to retrieve lost passwords. Their latest product adds two new features. First, it distributes the workload on distributed computers. Second, it may use NVidia Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) to gain a factor 20 in processing time compared to simple CPU. They announced a gain of 100 for cracking WPA/WPA2 passwords.
Of course, immediately the press has “reported” this exploit without often many insights. I have even seen some blogs reporting a gain of 10,000. The “exploit” of ElcomSoft is to use GPU and distributed computing. This is not new. Remember the use of several PS3 with cells to create collisions for SHA1 (See Security Newsletter #9). ElcomSoft still uses brute force against WPA/WPA2. Thus, good luck and a lot of patience.
The second news is that a Japanese researcher, Masakatsu MORII, who succeeded to crack WEP key in less than 1 second. He announced this exploit at CSS2008. The Japanese presentation is available at http://srv.prof-morii.net/~morii/image/CSS2008/CSS081010_WEP_slide.pdf (password WPE2008). We will have to wait some time to get an English version. It will be interesting to analyze the attack to see if it opens new methods to break keys. He drastically accelerated compared to the last exploit at 6 minutes. Nevertheless, WEP is considered for many years as too weak to protect Wifi. This is just nailing once more WEP’s coffin.
Was security of Wifi reduced this week? Clearly not with these announcements. The first one seems to be more a promotional trick to increase awareness of ElcomSoft. The second one hacks an already dead algorithm. By the way, check that you do not use WEP to protect your personal wireless network. I am sure you are already using WPA2