As the number of hacking attacks on Wi-Fi networks has increased in recent times, it has become important to take security precautions. What steps have you taken to secure your Wi-Fi connection? You probably have set up a Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) password, isn’t it?
If you thought this was enough to keep away hackers, there’s some bad news. An open source tool known as Reaver can be used to hack the password of your Wi-Fi network. Let’s see how Reaver works and what you should do to protect a Wi-Fi network connection from such threats.
The modus operandi of Reaver
You would perhaps be surprised to know that Reaver can crack a Wi-Fi password within 4-10 hours. It exploits a security loophole in the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) feature of routers. The objective of WPS is to simplify the process of setting up a network. The WPS is linked to a PIN which verifies the devices connected to a network. Reaver takes advantage of the way a router responds to the entry of incorrect PINs. On entering an incorrect PIN, a WPS-enabled router indicates which part of the PIN is wrong – whether it is the first or the second half of the PIN. This makes it a lot easier for hackers as the number of attempts required to crack the PIN reduces.
In a brute-force attack, Reaver tries different combinations of the PIN to find the correct one. Once the PIN is revealed, the WPA or WPA2 password can also be obtained.
Routers which are vulnerable to Reaver attacks
If your router is WPS-enabled or does not have the PIN lockout feature, it is quite prone to attacks by security threats such as Reaver. Most routers available nowadays have the WPS feature, which include brands such as Belkin, NETGEAR, TP-LINK, ZyXEL, and Linksys.
According to Craig Heffner of Tactical Network Solutions, who discovered the security loophole, the WPS vulnerability was found in all Linksys and Cisco Valet wireless access points that were tested. Presently, none of the router developers have responded to this threat and firmware updates to counter Reaver are soon expected to be released.
How to protect your Wi-Fi network from Reaver
You surely won’t like to share your Wi-Fi network with a hacker, right? So here are some steps that you can take to protect your Wi-Fi network. First of all, you should disable the WPS feature of your router. The WPS settings of most routers have an option to turn off the PIN. However, Reaver may still be able to hack the password even if you disable the WPS. Another way is to configure your router for MAC address filtering. This will allow only specific devices approved by you to connect to your network. This won’t work in case a hacker is able to gain the MAC address of a device connected to the Wi-Fi network.
On your router, you can also install the DD-WRT open source firmware which does not support WPS. DD-WRT not only secures your router, it also provides add-on features such as checking your Internet usage and enhancing the Wi-Fi network range.
Image by °Florian via Flickr (cc)
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