Auditing Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) Pre-Shared Key Mode

Understand the risks of two wireless security technologies by experimenting with cracking tools.

This article examined some of the vulnerabilities within WEP and WPA and provides the tools and method for auditing WPA pre-shared key mode passphrases. To do this, we examined the framework and flaws in WEP and reviewed the risks associated with using WPA-PSK passphrases of less than 20 characters. It has been demonstrated that although the method to crack the WPA-PSK is not trivial, it also is not beyond the reach of an average Linux user. Home users can lessen their security risks by using a passphrase significantly greater than 20 characters or, alternatively, by using WPA-Enterprise and incorporating an authentication server. Corporate users should implement an authentication server, use per-user keying and refrain from implementing WPA in PSK mode.

Resources for this article: /article/8405.

John L. MacMichael (CISSP, GSEC, CWNA) is a Naval Officer and Information Professional who works in the field of Information Assurance. He considers himself a journeyman Linux user and utilizes a variety of distributions both at work and home, including Slackware, Debian, Red Hat and several live distros; he has yet to find his favorite. He invites your comments at


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