Unscrupulous Merchants Selling Wi-Fi Cracking Kits in China

Paul Lilly

This should come as a suprise to absolutely no one, but underground merchants in China are cashing in on weak Wi-Fi encryption by selling network key cracking kits. What is a little surprising, however, is how brazen the sellers have become. Available both online and at China's electronics bazaars, the kits consist of a Wi-Fi USB adapter with a Linux OS, key-breaking software, and an easy-to-follow user manual. The whole shebang is being marketed as free Internet.

It doesn't take a whole of tech savvy to use one of these kits, nor do they require a hefty investment. Some merchants are selling Wi-Fi cracking kits for as little as US$24, and sellers offer free setup from an associate on the opposite end of the building.

Both WEP and WPA keys are vulnerable, the former by exploiting a long-known weakness in the protocol and the latter by way of a brute-force attack.

"Depending on many factors, WEP keys can be extracted in a matter of minutes," said one of the kit's developers who goes by the name Muts. "I believe the record is around 20 seconds."

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