A hacking tool which can recover the encryption keys used to "protect" data sent over wireless networks has been released on the Internet.
AirSnort is one of the first tools that automates the process of breaking in wireless networks and takes advantages of flaws in the Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP) which were highlighted by a group of cryptographers a couple of weeks ago.
This group, among them Adi Shamir, documented weaknesses in the key scheduling algorithm of RC4, which forms part of WEP. From there it was a short step to the development of AirSnort, which passively monitors the transmissions of a wireless Lan, computing the encryption password when enough packets (between 100MB-1GB) have been gathered.
To work AirSnort needs only to be installed on a Linux-operated computer with a wireless network card.
It's well known that the build security offered by 802.11b wireless networks is flaky. The hackers, Jeremy Bruestle and Blake Hegerle, told Wired their main motive was to "open people's eyes" to this. They hope vendors will improve the security that comes with their products to defend against AirSnort.
That's as maybe but the emergence of AirSnort, and soon another similar tool called WEPcrack (which is still in development), are certain to deskill the process of breaking into wireless networks and in so doing open them up to s'kiddiots everywhere.
AirSnort is very much a double-edged sword... ®