Wi-Fi Encryption Fix Not Perfect

    Date15 Nov 2002
    CategoryCryptography
    3800
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    The biggest security risks for "Wi-Fi" wireless Internet networks are that users sometimes fail to turn on their encryption software. But even the responsible ones who use the encryption program -- Wired Equivalent Privacy -- aren't immune to malicious attacks. . . . The biggest security risks for "Wi-Fi" wireless Internet networks are that users sometimes fail to turn on their encryption software. But even the responsible ones who use the encryption program -- Wired Equivalent Privacy -- aren't immune to malicious attacks.

    A growing trend on the streets of Manhattan are WarDrivers who break into wireless networks for fun. A professional hacker or anyone with significant programming knowledge can hack through WEP and even steal data off the network.

    Unlike WEP, WPA utilizes a series of mathematical algorithms to authenticate users who are logging onto the network and to prevent anyone without valid credentials from entering. But if hackers send "two failed forgeries," or packets of unauthorized data during a one-second period, the system assumes it is under attack, said Intel network security architect Jesse Walker in a white paper on 802.11 security.

    "WEP provides a level of security too low for me to take seriously," said Niels Ferguson, a cryptography consultant in Amsterdam who helped come up with an alternative encryption to WEP.

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