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WPA/WPA2 TKIP Attack

WiFi Protected Access (WPA) was introduced as a replacement for WEP around 2003. By 2003, WEP was complete­ly broken which had a stifling effect on WLAN adoption. It was because of a timely effort on the part of the WiFi Alliance that WPA became available to replace WEP as a better security framework for WLANs.

TKIP vulnerability Diagram

WPA is a security framework whose: (a) encryption component is called Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP), and (b) authentication component can be either Pre-Shared Key (PSK) -- designed for home users or RADIUS (based on 802.1x) -- designed for enterprise usage. An important property of WPA, besides better security, was that WEP devices could be software/firmware upgraded to WPA. That is, they did not require a hardware upgrade. Since its introduction in 2003, WPA has served the purpose it was designed for very well and no vulnerabilities/exploits were discovered targeting enterprise WPA over last 5 years. Many organizations today have migrated to WPA as their wireless security framework.

However, WPA’s stature as a secure protocol was recently challenged (in November 2008) for the first time. TKIP, an essential encryption component of WPA, which was heralded for years as the replacement for the broken WEP encryption, was shown to be vulnerable to a packet injection exploit.

You can learn more about the WPA-TKIP vulnerability, the severity of the newly discovered exploit, and measures to mitigate the subsequent risk by downloading our white paper or viewing our webinar "WPA/WPA2 TKIP: Tip of the Iceberg?"

Update (September 2009)

Certain enhancement to the above attack has been recently reported. The new discovery has been sensationalized as "broken in 1 min". See our technical note on factual analysis of the new discovery and its impact . You can also follow discussion on this new attack on our blog.