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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:47 AM   #1
MacRumors
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Researchers Crack iOS-Generated Hotspot Passwords in 50 Seconds




When tethering an iPhone or an iPad, iOS users have the option of using an automatically generated password for their personal hotspots, which Apple implemented to provide all users with a secure password option.

According to researchers at Germany's University of Erlangen (via ZDNeT), the way that the keys are generated - with a combination of a short English word along with random numbers - is predictable to the point where the researchers are able to crack the hotspot password in less than a minute.

In their paper, the three researchers detail the process that they used to figure out the weak spots in the hotspot's protection. Apple's word list uses approximately 52,500 entries, so initially, cracking the hotspot took almost 50 minutes. After finding a WiFi connection, the researchers used an AMD Radeon HD 6990 GPU to run through word and number combinations.
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"This list consists of around 52,500 entries, and was originated from an open-source Scrabble crossword game. Using this unofficial Scrabble word list within offline dictionary attacks, we already had a 100 percent success rate of cracking any arbitrary iOS hotspot default password," the researchers wrote.
The team discovered that only a small set of Apple's larger word list was being used, so with GPU cluster of four AMD Radeon HD 7970s, they narrowed their iOS-generated hotspot password cracking time down to just 50 seconds. In the paper, the team goes on to criticize Apple's password generation standards, suggesting that system generated passwords be composed of random letters and numbers.
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"In the context of mobile hotspots, there is no need to create easily memorizable passwords. After a device has been paired once by typing out the displayed hotspot password, the entered credentials are usually cached within the associating device, and are reused within subsequent connections," the paper states.

"System-generated passwords should be reasonably long, and should use a reasonably large character set. Consequently, hotspot passwords should be composed of completely random sequences of letters, numbers, and special characters."
As noted by ZDNet though Apple's password generation system is flawed, it is a more robust solution than what is used by other companies like Microsoft. For example, the Windows 8 phone utilizes default passwords that consist of eight digit numbers.

To avoid a weak iPhone hotspot password, users can still choose to use passwords of their own creation, which should contain a sequence of random numbers and letters for enhanced security.

Article Link: Researchers Crack iOS-Generated Hotspot Passwords in 50 Seconds
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:52 AM   #2
Walter White
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I always use my birthdate as password.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:52 AM   #3
hayesk
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The phone also displays how many clients are connected, so you will see if it has been cracked. I believe HotSpot sharing is also WEP (easily cracked), so don't use a password that you use, for example, your home WiFi network.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:53 AM   #4
Menel
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" so with GPU cluster of four AMD Radeon HD 7970s"
Using my iPad out in a park away from building WIFI. I think that, with a gas generator out in a park might be obvious and suspicious...

Also, use Bluetooth. The connection is persistent. iPad reconnects without fiddling with Phone because the phone doesn't idle it's bluetooth like it does WIFI. Also more secure as you will have to manually approve the connection. Problem solved, and everything fixed.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:53 AM   #5
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:54 AM   #6
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Genuinely curious: What is the advantage of using a GPU for this type of processing vs. standard CPU processing?
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:55 AM   #7
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Not going to lie, you'd think Apple might have taken it a bit more seriously than using an open source Scrabble dictionary and sticking a 1 at the end.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:55 AM   #8
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I can imagine folks just roaming airports with these AMD systems looking for iPhone passwords.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:56 AM   #9
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Hotspots should be sort of temporary anyway.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by fivedots View Post
Genuinely curious: What is the advantage of use GPUs for this type of processing vs. CPU power?
Much faster for crunching certain types of data.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by MacRumors View Post
To avoid a weak iPhone hotspot password, users can still choose to use passwords of their own creation, which should contain a sequence of random numbers and letters for enhanced security[/url]
You don't need random numbers and letters as much as length (although adding in numbers and special characters if allowed is even better).

MyfuNNygoatWilmaatemyshoe'stoNgue (or shake it up and make "o"s zeros or something like that).

is much better than xc5RF8dW

Edit: simple number or symbol substitutions for letters don't do much to complexity but they don't hurt. Length really is key. A long (20+ character), truly random password would be best but they are difficult to remember. So going with length+easy to remember is far better than short (<8) and random.

Last edited by neuropsychguy; Jun 19, 2013 at 02:00 PM.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:57 AM   #12
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If you're that paranoid, you can easily change the password to something much more complicated and secure. Really not a big deal.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:57 AM   #13
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Wow, I guess next time I setup a personal hotspot to check my email on my laptop, I'd better watch out for someone nearby with a "GPU cluster of four AMD Radeon HD 7970s". I mean seriously, who sets up a wireless hotspot on their iPhone using the password generator and then transmits some sensitive data which is at risk of (and in range of) some hacker that would have the ability (or desire) to crack their wireless hotspot security? It's hard enough to even get people to turn on any security much less worry about whether it could potentially be hacked. These "researchers" need to spend their time on something more useful.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:58 AM   #14
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Not going to lie, you'd think Apple might have taken it a bit more seriously than using an open source Scrabble dictionary and sticking a 1 at the end.
Exactly. Hackers have dictionaries and can add variable amounts of numbers to each entry for each round of cracking attempt. Brute forcing these kinds of passwords is easy work for them.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:58 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Walter White View Post
I always use my birthdate as password.
That would be even easier to crack.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:58 AM   #16
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I take it they're not using arc4random() to generate that random data at the end... Somewhat embarrassing.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:59 AM   #17
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The person who put that into place needs to be fired. It's not easy to generate passwords, but they could have tested the function better to see if it was random enough.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:59 AM   #18
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This does not appear to be an issue in iOS 7.

The passwords generated in the beta are not based on dictionary words and are considerably more randomized.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:00 AM   #19
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wow...50 seconds...impressive
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:02 AM   #20
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I believe HotSpot sharing is also WEP (easily cracked)
They'd be crazy to use WEP these days. It's actually WPA2.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:02 AM   #21
Walter White
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That would be even easier to crack.
If you know my birthdate which is not what my passport says. Also how i wrote it.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:05 AM   #22
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I've never used the hotspot feature. Oh well. My boss' password is 12345678.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:06 AM   #23
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That's why you should ask hackers (or as the article says "researchers") if it comes to security concepts
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:07 AM   #24
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Relevant xkcd comic.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:07 AM   #25
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That would be even easier to crack.
You think? I am sure that was a joke
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