Monday, March 2, 2009

Cafe Crack – Instant Man in the Middle

Things like this[1] make me wonder how we’ll even get some semblance of sanity over the security and identity protection of mobile users.
Cafe Crack, provides a platform built from open source software for deploying rogue access points and sophisticated Man-in-the-Middle attacks.
They make it look easy:
Using only a laptop, the attacker can sit unassumingly in a public location to steal personal information. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this demonstration is that it was accomplished with only a laptop and existing open-source software.
I knew it could be done, but I thought it was harder than that.
There are things that corporations can do, like spin up VPN’s:
However, the good news is that it is just as easy to protect oneself against Man-in-the-Middle attacks on an unsecure wireless connection. By using DNSSEC or VPN services, the user can bypass the attacker and keep their information secure.
But for ordinary users?
In the end, it is up to the user to be knowledgeable and safe around unsecure technology like public wireless.
I think ordinary users don’t have a chance.

Update (07/06/2012): The FBI warned on this type of attack..

[1] Cafe Cracks: Attacks on Unsecured Wireless Networks, Paul Moceri and Troy Ruths


  1. I make it a point never to ever connect to an ad hoc network. That cuts down 95% of the mitm risks, at least, I think it does.

    Good information to have though, and I think you're right. Most people don't stand a chance

  2. Matt - I don't see why the bad guy can't emulate an infrastructure access point and broadcast an SSID that appears to be related to nearby businesses.

    I'd fall for it.

  3. I've been to too many coffee shops where the shared access point was an UNCONFIGURED WiFi router. Every time I have ever spotted one, I have connected, tried the default password, and gotten in. It would take all of five minutes to hide the original router, connect my computer to it, then 'share' the connection with the original router's name.

    And Michael's trick would work. Especially at the marginal range, where you could 'extend' an open network, without interfering with the original. "Oh, look! I can connect to Starbucks from here!"

    You could probably do this with a netbook (or even a tablet), and not even dig it out of your backpack.