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Default key algorithm in Thomson and BT Home Hub routers
From: "Adrian Pastor" <ap () gnucitizen org>
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:27:50 +0100


Yes, we're back with more embedded devices vulnerability research! And
yes, we're also back with more security attacks against the BT Home
Hub (most popular DSL router in the UK)!

As you know, we encourage folks in the community to team up with
GNUCITIZEN in different projects as we've had very successful
experiences doing so. This time it was Kevin Devine's turn. Kevin, who
is an independent senior security researcher, did an awesome job at
reverse engineering the *default WEP/WPA key algorithm* used by some
Thomson Speedtouch routers including the BT Home Hub. Kevin noticed
that all the public vulnerability research conducted in the past for
the BT Home Hub had been released [1] by GNUCITIZEN, so he decided to
share his findings and work with us in this fascinating project. As
you might already know, at GNUCITIZEN we're committed members of the
white-hat community who feel that it's our responsibility to inform
the public when a security issue exists.

* Confirmed suspicions *

Many of us involved researching the security of wireless home routers
have always suspected that routers that come with default WEP/WPA keys
follow predictable algorithms for practical reasons. Yes, I'm talking
about routers that come with those stickers [2] that include info such
as S/N, default SSID, and default WEP/WPA key. Chances are that if you
own a wireless router which uses a default WEP or WPA key, such key
can be predicted based on publicly-available information such as the
router's MAC address or SSID. In other words: it's quite likely that
the bad guys can break into your network if you're using the default
encryption key. Thanks to Kevin, our suspicion that such issue exists
on the BT Home Hub has been confirmed (keep reading for more
details!). Our advice is: *use WPA rather than WEP and change the
default encryption key now!*

* Brief history of default WEP/WPA key algorithms research *

As far as I know, Kevin and james67 were the first researchers to
publicly crack a default encryption key algorithm of a Wi-FI home
router. Kevin cracked [3] the algorithm used by Netopia routers which
are shipped Eircom in Ireland and AT&T in the US (the second ISP was
never reported, 0day!). On the other hand james67 [4] targeted [5] the
Netgear DG834GT router shipped by SKY in the UK. Unfortunately,
james67 did not [6] publish the details of the algorithm he cracked
which is a shame as it means that we cannot learn from his research.

* The Thomson Speedtouch default WEP/WPA algorithm *

Unlike james67, Kevin's strategy to crack default WEP/WPA algorithms
involve debugging setup wizards shipped by some ISPs, as opposed to
debugging the router which uses the default key algorithm. Kevin
obtained a copy of such wizard ("stInstall.exe") provided by Orange in
Spain - which can be found on broadband customers' installation CDs.
Such setup utility allowed him to figure out the default key

In short we have:

S/N -> hash -> default SSID and encryption key

which can be read as: *a hashed version of the router's serial number
is generated which is then used to derive both, the default SSID and
the default encryption key.* This is just a high-level overview of the
algorithm. More specifically we have (quoted from Kevin's stkeys tool
source code comments):

    Take as example: "CP0615JT109 (53)"

    Remove the CC and PP values: CP0615109

    Convert the "XXX" values to hexadecimal: CP0615313039

    Process with SHA-1: 742da831d2b657fa53d347301ec610e1ebf8a3d0

    The last 3 bytes are converted to 6 byte string, and appended to
the word "SpeedTouch" which becomes the default SSID: SpeedTouchF8A3D0

    The first 5 bytes are converted to a 10 byte string which becomes
the default WEP/WPA key: 742DA831D2

In the case of the BT Home Hub, the only difference that is we only
take the last two bytes (rather than 3 bytes) from the SHA1 hash to
derive the SSID:

S/N: CP0647EH6DM(BF)

Remove CC and PP values: CP06476DM

"XXX" values hex-encoded: CP064736444D

SHA1-ed: 06f48a28eba1ab896a396077d772fd65503b8df3

Default SSID: BTHomeHub-8DF3

Default encryption key: 06f48a28eb

By brute-forcing possible serial numbers and deriving the default SSID
and encryption key, we can find possible keys for a given default
SSID, which is exactly what Kevin's stkeys [7] tool does.

The bigger the number of hexadecimal digits the target SSID has, the
smaller the number of generated possible keys is. For instance, if the
target SSID is "SpeedTouchF8A3D0″, we can narrow down the number of
possible keys to only two. On the other side, a target SSID with only
4 hex digits (2 bytes) such as "BTHomeHub-20E3″ would give us 80
possible keys on average.

We've tested ST585v6 which is shipped by Orange in Spain. Thomson
Speedtouch routers provided by Orange in Spain come with WPA enabled
by default. Being able to *narrow down the number of possible default
WPA keys to only two* using Kevin's tool is quite remarkable.

_Spanish translation of previous paragraph:_

_Hemos probado el ataque contra el ST585v6 que viene con las
conexiones de banda ancha de Orange en España. Los routers Thomson
Speedtouch que son proveidos por Orange en España vienen con llave WPA
activada por defecto. El poder reducir el numero de posibles llaves
WPA que vienen por defecto a solo dos usando la herramienta de Kevin
es formidable!_

In the case of the BT Home Hub in the UK (which only comes with 40
bits WEP encryption by default by the way), we can narrow down the
number of possible keys to about 80. In order to avoid the
brute-forcing computation time required by the "stkeys" tool, I
created "BTHHkeygen" which looks up the possible keys for a given SSID
from a pre-generated "SSID->keys" table. Think of it as a rainbow
table for cracking the BT Home Hub's default WEP encryption key. Once
the list of around 80 keys is obtained, the second step in the attack
is to try each of them automatically, until the valid key is
identified. For this purpose I created "BTHHkeybf" which is a fancy
wrapper around the "iwconfig" Linux tool.  We tested three different
BT Home Hubs, and the the attack seems to work fine.

_The BT Home Hub v1.5 model uses a different algorithm which we have
not attempted to crack yet._

There is one thing that I want to mention regarding this attack when
launched against a BT Home Hub: breaking into a BT Home Hub Wi-Fi
network which uses default settings (40 bits WEP) has always been
possible in a matter of minutes (if packet injection attacks are used)
since the Home Hub was released into the market. Therefore, this
predictable-default-key attack doesn't change the current state of the
BT Home Hub's Wi-Fi insecurity. It's always been known that BT Home
Hub Wi-Fi networks can be easily broken into by cracking the WEP key!

* PoC *

BTHHkeygen (including rainbow tables) and BTHHkeybf can be found here:
(located on the "\BT Home Hub\demo_exploits\Default WEP key cracking\" folder)


GNUCITIZEN is a Cutting Edge, Ethical Hacker Outfit, Information Think
Tank, which primarily deals with all aspects of the art of hacking.
Our work has been featured in established magazines and information
portals, such as Wired, Eweek, The Register, PC Week, IDG, BBC and
many others. The members of the GNUCITIZEN group are well known and
well established experts in the Information Security, Black Public
Relations (PR) Industries and Hacker Circles with widely recognized
experience in the government and corporate sectors and the open source

* References *

[1] http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site:gnucitizen.org+bt+home+hub&num=100&hl=en&filter=0
[2] http://www.belkin.com/support/dl/assets/uk-labels/bthomehub2.jpg
[3] http://h1.ripway.com/kevindevine/wep_key.html
[4] http://www.skyuser.co.uk/forum/blogs/james67/
[6] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/21/sky_broadband_wi_fi_keys_unpicked/
[7] http://weiss.u40.hosting.digiweb.ie/stech/stkeys.zip
[8] http://www.hackernotcracker.com/2007-06/using-aircrack-ngaireplay-ng-under-injection-monitor-mode-in-windows.html

Adrian 'pagvac' Pastor | Security Consultant and White Hat Hacker | GNUCITIZEN

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