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How Hackers are Using GPUs to Crack WPA2 WiFi Passwords

Cyber Attack Protection from BACSCyber attacks are on the rise, and the simple advent of widespread WiFi can provide anyone bent on a cyber attack with access to your network resources without the hackers ever needing to take one step inside your office building. There have been examples of cyber attacks performed from coffee shops next door to their target or the passenger seat of a car parked outside. The idea of someone accessing your network without permission from so close by is a scary prospect. Your business could fall victim to cyber-crime without the hacker leaving any physical evidence at all.

WPA2 is often considered one of the most secure options for wireless networking encryption. This is generally true, but the WPA2-PSK system still has its fair share of security risks. For example — did you know that a hacker can rapidly speed up the process of brute-forcing your wireless networking password (spamming the system with a program that suggests every conceivable password combination it can) by using a powerful GPU found inside a high end graphics card? Let’s look into how this works and what you can do to prevent it.

So What Exactly Is A GPU?

For many people, the only idea thy have of a GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, is the chips used inside of video cards. These enhance the quality of images in games, movies, computer displays, and other types of rich media. NVIDIA, an innovator in GPU technology, has mentioned before the potential usefulness of GPUs when it comes to accelerating application speeds by up to 100 times faster than the more traditional Central Processing Unit, or CPU.

Although GPUs are most often used in gaming devices, hackers have begun using their processing capabilities to perform more sophisticated tasks, such as WiFi password cracking, cryptocurrency, and more.

How Can a Hacker Realistically Use a GPU to Crack a Network Key?

Honestly, it’s a lot easier than you might think. Google “How to crack a WiFi Network using GPUs” and you’ll find page after page of advice telling you exactly how you can begin running WiFi penetration tests on any wireless network that happens to be within range. Remember how we said that GPUs can potentially accelerate applications by up to 100x times that of a CPU? GPUs can be configured to work in conjunction with network penetration testing tools such as Kali Linux, HashCat and Aircrack-NG in order to brute force your wireless network’s access key.

If a GPU can process data up to hundred times faster than a CPU, this means that your network key can be brute-forced up to 100 times faster than those using a traditional CPU to do the job.

How Do I Protect My Business from Hackers Using GPUs?

In order to keep your business safe from GPU related attacks, it is imperative to come up with a comprehensive wireless network security plan. By staying one step ahead of the hackers, you’ll be able rest comfortably at night knowing that your business is safe from WiFi intruders. We have a few ideas for helping to support your existing WiFi security measures::

  • Make your WPA2 wireless network key as long as possible. Your network key can be up to 64 total ASCII characters. While it can be cumbersome to remember a 64 character password, think of it like this: Twitter posts are up to a 140 characters long.
  • Keep away from using dictionary words. You may want to consider using numbers or special characters in place of certain letters, such as “bu$$in3$$”.
  • Inconvenience may be your strongest defense. While long passwords with many numbers and special characters aren’t exactly fun for employees to type into their computers or cell phones, they will provide a much greater level of security simply by making it less convenient for your company to be targeted.
  • Change your network access key often. Even complex network access keys can be brute-forced with enough time and commitment. If you routinely change up your network access key and make the process of breaking in less convenient and more time-consuming, the hacker may simply move on and look for an easier target.
  • Set up access windows on your wireless network. Does anyone really need to access your wireless network at 2am? For small businesses with entry levels WiFi routers, you may be able to simply unplug your access point before you leave the office. If you’re a larger business, your WiFi access point may give you an option to stop broadcasting during certain times.
  • Consider using a MAC address whitelist. All businesses should know exactly who, what, where, when and why a computer or mobile device is trying to authenticate onto your wireless network. It’s important to implement a policy in which laptops and mobile devices must first be registered with your IT department. This ensures that only devices that are authorized to be on your network are able to get network access.
  • Create a secondary ‘guest’ network. If your business provides WiFi signal to visitors or guests (for instance, in a coffee shop or small firm that has visitors regularly needing internet access), create a separate ‘guest’ network. Require guests to go through heavily firewalled connections and use an agent to check whether or not the guest device has working virus protection before it is allowed to authenticate onto your guest network.

When you’re looking to ensure that your business, whether large enterprise or small start-up, is safe, look to BACS Consulting Group, Inc. We provide Managed Services including cloud services, data security, network management, virtualization, and other vital services that help your business stay safe and grow. For more information on what we can do for your company, just click the banner below to schedule your IT assessment today. You can also reach us by phone at (650) 887-4601.

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