Defcon Wi-Fi hack called no threat to enterprise WLANs

By , Network World |  Security, Defcon, wireless security

Enterprise Wi-Fi networks can keep using WPA2 security safely, despite a recent Defcon exploit that has been widely, but wrongly, interpreted as rendering it useless.

The exploit successfully compromised a legacy authentication protocol, MS-CHAPv2, which was created by Microsoft years ago. But the vulnerabilities of this protocol (and other similar ones) are well known, and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 makes use of additional mechanisms to protect them. That protection is still in force, according to both the Wi-Fi Alliance and a wireless architect, who blogged in depth on this issue after the Defcon exploit was reported.

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In the wake of the Defcon demonstration, enterprises were being urged by some to abandon MS-CHAP, the Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP), WPA2 or all of the above. None of that is necessary.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has reviewed the chapcrack tool and cloudcracker service announced last week at Defcon 20 and these tools do not present an exploitable vulnerability in Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products, according to statement issued by the Wi-Fi Alliance, via Kelly Davis-Felner, the WFA marketing director. These tools exploit previously-documented weaknesses in the use of Microsoft CHAP (MS-CHAP). All uses of MS-CHAP in WPA2 are protected by the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. TLS is the same strong cryptographic technology that protects all online e-commerce transactions. TLS prevents interception of the MS-CHAP messages used in WPA2 Enterprise and effectively protects against attacks using chapcrack or cloudcracker.

Thats a bare bones, but accurate description of why the exploit cant affect a properly set up enterprise WLAN. Andew vonNagy, senior Wi-Fi architect at Aerohive Networks, fleshed out the description in a post on his personal blog, Revolution Wi-Fi.

As with almost everything in wireless security, there are conditions and qualifications. But for Wi-Fi networks that are properly using 802.1X authentication, and that have transport layer security properly implemented, then the impact [of this exploit] is essentially zero, vonNagy says.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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