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Since I’ve been reading a lot about security in networking, I figured I’d give the well known WEP cracking a try.

Common Misconceptions With Wep Cracking
  1. You need a special card to crack WEP keys.
    • This is not true, with some caveats. Any card that can be switched to “monitor mode” can be used to crack WEP keys. The vast majority of cards can do this or someone has written a custom driver (e.g. Airport Extreme Cards on Macs) to enable it. HOWEVER, and this is a big however; if you want to crack WEP without waiting for days or even weeks, you need a card to supports “packet injection.” This list is much smaller but growing as the hardcore driver writers write custom drivers for them.
  2. Nobody is going to crack my WEP key
    • Not only is this entirely untrue, I personally promise you it will happen. There are now websites hooked into the Google Maps API which map out SSID’s and their encryption level, typically on major roads – http://wigle.net/
Intel 3945abg Wireless Card

This is the card that I have on my Dell Inspiron 640m and is a very popular card for laptops. Natively, this card does not support injection but around 2007 a package called ipwraw was developed by Tolas Feup and has since had 3 versions up to 2008 – http://www.aircrack-ng.org/doku.php?id=ipw3945. I use Backtrack and as of version 4.0 this card is fully supported with no custom configuration, simply load up Backtrack and start capturing and injecting!


With Backtrack loaded (ensure you’re in an graphical environment, if not type ‘startx’), do the following:

Turn on monitoring mode on the Intel card. You should then have a mon0 interface.

airmon-ng start wlan0

Now, search for your WEP Access Point (AP) by scanning SSIDs. This uses a technique called channel hoping to rapidly switch through all wireless channels to capture broadcasting packets:

airodump-ng mon0

Once you located your WEP AP, type ‘-c’ to terminate airodump-ng and copy the BSSID of your WEP AP and make note of the channel. We’re now going to turn it back on but have it only capture this specific BSSID. Leave this terminal open when you’re done.

airodump-ng --bssid BSSID -c CHANNEL -w OUTPUT_FILE mon0

Now we need to associate with the AP. Open a new terminal and type

aireplay-ng -1 0 -a BSSID mon0

If you received authentication successful from the previous command, you can move on. We’re now going to do an ARP replay attack against the AP so that we can get it to generate enough Initial Vectors (IV) (I plan to discuss the details of WEP weaknesses in a later post) that it will reuse one and from there we can obtain the WEP key

aireplay-ng -3 -b BSSID -h 00:11:22:33:44:55 mon0

This command may take a minute or so. What it’s doing is capturing packets and looking for an ARP packet. Sometimes it can take a while to find an ARP packet if there is little activity on the AP. Once it finds an ARP packet, you’ll see it repeatedly send ARP packets — this really is the key to the speed of the attack. Without this, we’d have to wait for quite some time to get enough IVs to do the crack.

Now you’ll need to monitor the airodump-ng terminal. Once the ARP packets are being replayed you should see the count in the Data column grow at a fast rate. You need to wait until this number is very large (depending on the key size of the AP). Try with 50k and then 100k and so on. Once you’ve captured enough data you can stop the aireplay-ng sending ARP requests and run the following (replace with OUTPUT_FILE from above):

aircrack-ng OUTPUT_FILE-01.cap

If successful you’ll get a KEY FOUND! with the cracked WEP key. Enjoy, have fun, and don’t do anything illegal please!