We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,100 News Articles

Why old Wi-Fi security is vulnerable to attack

Trade in WEP for WPA - today

Forty-one percent of businesses — and an even higher percentage of home users, say experts — still use WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), an outdated and vulnerable Wi-Fi security protocol. Trust us when we tell you the phrase: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is not the motto to live by when it comes to wireless-network security.

A WEP vulnerability was behind the biggest known US data breach, at retail giant TJX last year; hackers gained access to 94 million payment card numbers. But the latest proof-of-concept breach should be even more of a clarion call to trade in WEP for the superior WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).

An attacker using security researcher Vivek Ramachandran's "Cafe Latte" technique, as it's known, could break through WEP protection on a client machine — such as your laptop — in the time it takes to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Previously, hackers have focused on using WEP flaws to break into wireless networks, a process that involves driving to a hotspot and cracking the WEP key to gain direct access to the network. Ramachandran’s technique instead targets attached devices, tricking the WEP-enabled client into thinking that it is logging on to a familiar network.

The technique would give crooks the keys to any wireless network to which the laptop or device had access, including that of a hacked-laptop owner’s company.

"With the discovery of our attack, every employee of an organisation is the target of an attack," says Ramachandran.

So there you go. Upgrade your Wi-Fi to WPA, and do it today.

Get the latest PC security news, reviews and tips at PC Advisor's Security Advisor website.


IDG UK Sites

Windows 9 release date, price, features: Microsoft teases new OS ahead of 30 September unveiling

IDG UK Sites

From the iPhone 6 to the iWatch and a new Apple TV we look at the products Apple is set to launch...

IDG UK Sites

September 2014 creative trends: 5 things you must see

IDG UK Sites

What to expect from Apple in autumn/winter 2014: iPhone 6, iPhone Air, iWatch, iPad 6, new Apple...