Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN Method Has Flaw, Allowing Hackers To Deploy Brute Force Attack For Valid PIN Number In Lesser Time Than Before

According to threatpost’s article “WiFi Protected Setup Flaw Can Lead to Compromise of Router PINs,” your router with Wi-Fi Protected Setup enabled can allow hackers to take less time to figure out the PIN number and have access to your wireless network.  The article suggests that Wi-Fi Protected Setup reveals too much information when it tries to authenticate a device, consequently allowing hackers to take less time in acquiring the valid Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN number through brute force hacking method.

I’ve always disabled my Wi-Fi Protected Setup, because it seems to me as if it’s just another door for hackers to break into.  When reading the piece from threatpost, I’m glad that I’d been careful all along.  Most modern routers provide Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature so users don’t have to actually enter long WPA2 passphrase for connecting to a wireless network, because Wi-Fi Protected Setup requires a PIN number (e.g., 1234567…).

I’m no expert on Wi-Fi Protected Setup, because I had avoided using it from the very beginning.  It seems to me Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature has several methods which it’s associated with.  One involves in pushing the Wi-Fi Protected Setup button on the router and then on the client in a short time frame (i.e., less than 2 minutes or so).  After the user pushes the Wi-Fi Protected Setup buttons, user can just stand idle by and wait for the client and the router to automatically communicate with each other, allowing the client to connect to the router, thus the client would be able to surf the Internet using the wireless network which the router provides.  The second method requires PIN number registration, but this very method has two sub methods of its own.  The first sub method requires less work for users, because the users can just hand their devices’ Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN numbers (i.e., printed on the back of their devices or generated by their devices’ software) to the administrators.  The administrators then have to enter users’ Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN numbers into a router or access point‘s administration control panel (e.g., https://192.168.1.1) to register users’ Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN numbers with the access point, consequently allowing users’ devices to connect to the particular wireless network.  The second sub method requires the users to enter the Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN number of the router or access point onto their devices’ software, consequently allowing the client devices and the router or access point to communicate with each other (i.e., granting wireless network access).  The piece from threatpost emphasizes the weakness in the second sub method of the Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN number method, because the hackers only need the Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN number and not having to be within certain distance of the access point or the router.  The third method of Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature involves with Near Field Communication method.  Wikipedia‘s article “Near field communication” explains rather well on how Near Field Communication method works.

threatpost suggests that most modern routers tend to enable Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature by default.  If you are aware about the flaw of Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN number method, then you might want to disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature so the hackers won’t be able to use brute force attack to acquire the Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN number of the specific access point or router.  threatpost suggests many well known brands are all being affected by Wi-Fi Protected Setup flaw; as long any router has Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature with PIN method enabled, then the hackers who aware of the Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN number flaw can brute force attack the router for the Wi-Fi Protected Setup PIN number in less time than ever before.

Sources:  https://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/wifi-protected-setup-flaw-can-lead-compromise-router-pins-122711
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Protected_Setup
http://www.wi-fi.org/knowledge_center_overview.php?docid=4614

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