Cipher attack delivers heavy blow to WLAN security

Monty Solomon monty at
Mon Aug 6 01:18:30 EDT 2001

Cipher attack delivers heavy blow to WLAN security

By Patrick Mannion
EE Times
(08/04/01, 12:49 p.m. EST)

MANHASSET, N.Y. - A new report dashes any remaining illusions that 
802.11-based (Wi-Fi) wireless local-area networks are in any way 
secure. The paper, written by three of the world's foremost 
cryptographers, describes a devastating attack on the RC4 cipher, on 
which the WLAN wired-equivalent privacy (WEP) encryption scheme is 

The passive network attack takes advantage of several weaknesses in 
the key-scheduling algorithm of RC4 and allows almost anyone with a 
WLAN-enabled laptop and some readily available "promiscuous" network 
software to retrieve a network's key - thereby gaining full user 
access - in less than 15 minutes.

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