Dodgy salesmen in China are making money from long-known weaknesses in a Wi-Fi encryption standard, by selling network key-cracking kits for the average user.
Wi-Fi USB adapters bundled with a Linux operating system, key-breaking software and a detailed instruction book are being sold online and at China's bustling electronics bazaars. The kits, pitched as a way for users to surf the Web for free, have drawn enough buyers and attention that one Chinese auction site, Taobao.com, had to ban their sale last year.
With one of the "network-scrounging cards," or "ceng wang ka" in Chinese, a user with little technical knowledge can easily steal passwords to get online via Wi-Fi networks owned by other people.
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View more related contentGet Daily News by EmailThe kits are also cheap. A merchant in a Beijing bazaar sold one for 165 yuan ($24), a price that included setup help from a man at the other end of the sprawling, multistory building.
The main piece of the kits, an adapter with a six-inch antenna that plugs into a USB port, comes with a CD-ROM to install its driver and a separate live CD-ROM that boots up an operating system called BackTrack. In BackTrack, the user can run applications that try to obtain keys for two protocols used to secure Wi-Fi networks, WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). After a successful attack by the applications, called Spoonwep and Spoonwpa, a user can restart Windows and use the revealed key to access its Wi-Fi network.
(Read the entire article at: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/050510-wi-fi-key-cracking-kits-sold-in.html)