lecture: Predicting and Abusing WPA2/802.11 Group Keys


We analyze the generation and management of WPA2 group keys. These keys protect broadcast and multicast Wi-Fi traffic. We discovered several issues and illustrate their importance by decrypting all group (and unicast) traffic of a typical Wi-Fi network.

First we show that the 802.11 random number generator is flawed by design, and provides an insufficient amount of entropy. This is confirmed by predicting randomly generated group keys on several platforms. We then examine whether group keys are securely transmitted to clients. Here we discover a downgrade attack that forces usage of RC4 to encrypt the group key when transmitted in the 4-way handshake. The per-message RC4 key is the concatenation of a public 16-byte initialization vector with a secret 16-byte key, and the first 256 keystream bytes are dropped. We study this peculiar usage of RC4, and find that capturing 2 billion handshakes can be sufficient to recover (i.e., decrypt) a 128-bit group key. We also examine whether group traffic is properly isolated from unicast traffic. We find that this is not the case, and show that the group key can be used to inject and decrypt unicast traffic. Finally, we propose and study a new random number generator tailored for 802.11 platforms.