WiFi users have been urged to step up security as a Russian firm releases new software.
Global Secure Systems has said that the release of a WiFi password auditing utility by Russia's Elcomsoft should act as a wake-up call on the dangers of wireless insecurities to all IT managers.
David Hobson, managing director of GSS, claimed that the release of the Wireless Security Auditor by Elcomsoft moves the wireless security ballgame on by several stages as it highlights the fact that WiFi users need to be using more complex alpha-numeric passwords in order to protect their wireless networks, as well as consider wired connections wherever possible.
Hobson said: “Let's not beat about the bush here. If a user builds a custom PC with four high-end graphics cards and installs the £599 software, they then have a machine capable of tumbling wireless keys out of the ether and decrypting them in a matter of hours rather than months."
He claimed that the new software uses a wireless packet sniffing approach to the issue of encryption key retrieval, and then uses up to four high-end graphics cards installed on a PC to significantly accelerate what is, to all intents and purposes, a brute force attack on a given WiFi transmission.
If a WiFi user has employed an eight-character encryption key - currently the recommended norm for WPA – then Wireless Security Auditor can ‘retrieve' the password within a few hours, effectively giving a user near on-demand access to supposedly secure wireless transmissions.
Hobson said that the repercussions from the release of this software are that it drives a stake through the heart of the widespread usage of eight character WPA encryption keys as a means of protecting WiFi transmissions.
Hobson said: “It's a wake-up call to IT managers, pure and simple. IT managers should now move to 12 and even 16 character keys as a matter of urgency. It's not very user-friendly, but the potential consequences of staying with eight character keys do not bear thinking about.”