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Cloud computing used to hack wireless networks
Category : General 09 Jan 2011 10:36 AM | Industry News
Networks that use the WPA-PSK setup to secure their networks are always going to be vulnerable to weak passwords (or more accurately, the pre-shared key). Roth said that the networks can be broken into if hackers use enough computer power to "brute force" their way into figuring out the passwords that protect networks.
Those passwords were difficult for the average hacker to break until Amazon.com recently started leasing time on powerful computers at relatively inexpensive rates: It takes the processing capability of multiple computers to perform mathematical calculations needed to break the passwords.
Individuals wouldn't normally have the time or resources to do the hack. It takes a lot of computing power that most punters can't afford. But why buy all that expensive computing hardware when you can pop along to Amazon to rent its powerful cloud servers?
For 18 pence per minute, Roth had access to serious number crunching hardware and got hacks that would probably have taken him weeks or months to achieve using a home PC. In fact, it took Roth just 20 minutes of computer time and he said he has already written an even faster programme.
Purchasing the computers to run such a crack would cost tens of thousands of dollars, but Roth claims that a typical wireless password can be guessed by EC2 and his software in about six minutes. He proved this by hacking networks in the area where he lives. The type of EC2 computers used in the attack costs 28 cents per minute, so $1.68 is all it could take to lay open a wireless network.