Researchers Crack iOS-Generated Hotspot Passwords in 50 Seconds

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.
    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.
    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
  2. macrumors regular

    May 19, 2013
  3. macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2003
    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.
  4. macrumors 603


    Aug 4, 2011
    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.
  5. macrumors 68000


    Jul 23, 2012
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2011
    Genuinely curious: What is the advantage of using a GPU for this type of processing vs. standard CPU processing?
  7. macrumors 65816


    Sep 30, 2007
    Cambridge, UK
    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.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Jul 2, 2008
    I can imagine folks just roaming airports with these AMD systems looking for iPhone passwords.
  9. macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2012
  10. macrumors 65816


    Jul 10, 2008
    Much faster for crunching certain types of data.
  11. neuropsychguy, Jun 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013

    macrumors 6502a


    Sep 29, 2008
    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.
  12. macrumors 65816


    Jul 10, 2008
    If you're that paranoid, you can easily change the password to something much more complicated and secure. Really not a big deal.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Sep 21, 2009
    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.
  14. macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    :D 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.
  15. macrumors regular

    May 24, 2012
    That would be even easier to crack.
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 27, 2012
    In an ethereal plane of existence.
    I take it they're not using arc4random() to generate that random data at the end... Somewhat embarrassing.
  17. macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2008
    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.
  18. macrumors 68020


    Mar 12, 2006
    Rural America
    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.
  19. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 27, 2011
    Michigan, US
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    They'd be crazy to use WEP these days. It's actually WPA2.
  21. macrumors regular

    May 19, 2013
    If you know my birthdate which is not what my passport says. Also how i wrote it.
  22. macrumors 68000


    May 28, 2008
    I've never used the hotspot feature. Oh well. My boss' password is 12345678.
  23. macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2012
    Frankfurt am Main
    That's why you should ask hackers (or as the article says "researchers") if it comes to security concepts ;)
  24. macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2011
  25. macrumors 65816

    Aug 13, 2011
    You think? I am sure that was a joke ;)

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