Protecting your Network from the Latest WPA1/WPA2-PSK Vulnerability

New tool available in the Meraki dashboard to assess if your network is impacted

On August 4, 2018, a new method to exploit a known vulnerability was announced by Jens Steube from the Hashcat project for wireless networks that use WPA1/WPA2-PSK (pre-shared key), allowing attackers to obtain the PSK being used for the particular SSID. The vulnerability affects most wireless vendors using roaming technologies, including Cisco Meraki, and targets information exchanged between the client and AP via management frames during roaming inherent in the 802.11 protocol. Customers using Meraki APs are vulnerable if using fast roaming (802.11r) with PSK.

The attack is an alternative approach to gather information for existing attacks that can be used to determine the PSK. The attack exploits the case wherein the PSK is transferred over the air in a hashed manner. Using PSK to secure Wi-Fi networks is not considered the most secure approach, as networks are still prone to social engineering attacks wherein the PSK can be distributed to the users outside the organization.

Meraki has already identified at-risk customers and notified them about the vulnerability. Additionally, a warning has been added to the Meraki dashboard notifying customers if their configuration makes them vulnerable. SSIDs using WPA/WPA2-Enterprise are not affected by this vulnerability as the key generation process is very different as compared to PSK.

What is the attack?

Roaming technologies were developed to improve the access point handoff experience of wireless client devices as they physically move about a given network and, by virtue of distance and signal strength, automatically associate and disassociate with various access points (APs). Associating with a new AP takes time due to the necessary authentication. Fast Roaming (FT) speeds up the authentication and association process for roaming clients, helping to protect against packet loss and poor performance in high-bandwidth applications like VoIP calls or streaming content.

As part of the attack, an attacker can target the re-association process to obtain the unique master key ID used for the specific client. The master key ID is derived from the master key (also PSK) and name, AP MAC address and client MAC address. Since the master key is derived from the PSK and other details can be easily obtained, an attacker can obtain the key. Because this attack uses a dictionary attack to determine the PSK being used, it is highly recommended that admins use strong passwords that are not susceptible to guessing attempts.

Am I affected?

Only customers using FT with WPA/WPA2-PSK on Meraki APs are affected. To gauge impact, customers can leverage a new tool available in the Meraki dashboard by going to Announcements > KRACK & PMKID Vulnerability Impact to check any networks that might be affected. Customers can easily turn off 802.11r (FT) for all affected networks directly from the tool. Only customers affected by the PMKID and/or KRACK vulnerability will see the tool in the dashboard.

To determine whether 802.11r is enabled for a given Meraki wireless network, navigate to Wireless > Configure > Access Control in the Meraki dashboard, and look under Network Access:

We strongly urge all customers to disable 802.11r when used with PSK. Our technical support staff is available to assist with any questions or concerns you may have.

For additional details about the attack and our updates, please refer to our FAQ. Read Cisco’s Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) vulnerability disclosure for more technical information.