As I wrote previously someone (“J”) emailed me about my original post. He said it wasnt a good idea to put things on the internet like this and if I took it down he would take care of it, as in get the vulnerability resolved. I complied and “J” has been giving me updates on his so-called progress. He said that when his company contacted Verizon they pretty much said “ya, so” or something to that effect. Its been quite a while since I heard anything from him so I wonder if there ever was a plan to get it fixed. Some of my friends and colleagues think the guy was trying to steal my article for his own personal gain. I am not that paranoid but I guess it could be possible. Especially since he wrote an article on writing articles that pay. (I had to use google cache because his article mysteriously disappeared shortly after i posted this) I shouldnt be so naive.
Anyway, I decided to put the article back online so here it is:
(originally posted on 5/6/2008)
I got a Verizon Fios internet connection a little over a year ago. When the installer came he brought with him an Actiontec MI424-WR wireless router. The router is pretty decent but Verizon’s opinion of wireless security scares me.
After the tech installed the unit he proceeded to setup my PCs. He showed me a sticker on the bottom of the Actiontec router that had the “wireless security key” along with the ESSID and MAC adddress of the router. The key is a 10 character 64bit WEP key and I noticed it looked very similar to the router MAC address.
In fact the WEP key just happens to be the last 10 characters of the MAC address. This just seems lazy in my opinion. A couple of my neighbors also have Fios internet and I wanted to see if this WEP key = last 10 of MAC address principal was true on all of these Verizon/Actiontec routers. They didn’t change their ESSID so I figured I give it a try. In only a few seconds I was able to sniff the air and find a packet containing their access point’s mac address. I sniffed for a few more seconds to grab some encrypted packets and was able to test decryption of these packets using the last 10 characters of the source MAC that I found in one of the packets.
One of my Fios neighbors doesn’t even use the wireless part of the router but I was still able to grab his AP’s MAC (and WEP key) without any associated wireless clients because the Actiontec sends out an ‘IGMP Membership Report’ and ‘Spanning Tree Protocol’ update about once every second. These packets are sent over the air with the wireless access-point as a source MAC Address.
Sure, WEP has already been proven to be insecure and cracked in minutes using some free wireless cracking tools but thanks to Verizon/Actiontec you don’t need to go through all of that when the router is handing you the WEP key over the air.
What is even more disturbing is that Verizon is deploying this same setup to businesses. Doctors offices, lawyers, etc.
For anyone using the Actiontec with the default settings all of this can be fixed by switching to WPA. Here is a link to the PDF manual for the Actiontec MI424WR. Go to page 32. http://onlinehelp.verizon.net/consumer/bin/pdf/ActiontecMI1424WRUserManual.pdf
Make sure you use a strong Pre-shared key of several alpha-numeric characters.