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On with the Show

Before we get into the steps that the FBI used to break WEP, it should be noted there are numerous ways of hacking into a wireless network. The FBI team used publicly available tools and emphasized that they are demonstrating an attack that many other people are capable of performing. On the other hand, breaking the WEP key may not necessarily give an attacker complete access to a wireless network. There could also be other protection mechanisms such as VPNs or proxy servers to deal with.

For the demonstration, Special Agent Bickers brought in a NETGEAR wireless access point and assigned it a SSID of NETGEARWEP. He encrypted the access point with a 128 bit key - made by just keying in random letters and numbers.

Note that normally, you have to find wireless networks before you can crack them. The two wireless scanning tools of choice are Netstumbler for Windows or Kismet for Linux. Since the other WEP cracking tools are mainly Linux-based, most people find it easier to stick with Kismet, so they don't have to switch between Windows and Linux.

Scanning for Networks

Figure 2: Scanning for Networks

Another FBI agent started Kismet and immediately found the NETGEARWEP access point. Just for fun, a third agent used his laptop and ran FakeAP, a program that confuses scanning programs by putting up fake access points.

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