WPA security threat: Exploit is ‘a subset of a true key crack’

Nov 7, 2008

Reports yesterday that WPA had been partially cracked promptly began to spiral into talk of general router insecurity and the likelihood of bandwidth and data thieves roaming the streets.  In actual fact, the incident is more a proof-of-concept than anything else, and could be argued as a flaw in a subsection of a section of WPA encryption.  Ars Technica's Glenn Fleishman has thrashed out the details - and exactly what we should be worried about.

Fleishman's piece covers the history of WiFi security as well as this latest issue, but the point to take away is that this, alone, is not a way that hackers will be able to break into your network.  As he describes, it's more concerned with manipulating small quantities of data than it is reading everything you ever do online:

"To describe the attack succinctly, it's a method of decrypting and arbitrarily and successfully re-encrypting and re-injecting short packets on networks that have devices using TKIP. That's a very critical distinction; this is a serious attack, and the first real flaw in TKIP that's been found and exploited. But it's still a subset of a true key crack" Glenn Fleishman, Ars Technica

The message is that, if you have security and encryption enabled, your data is still safely locked away.  To avoid future issues with TKIP, consider switching to AES instead; that's entirely unaffected by this latest research.

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