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How to Crack a Wi-Fi Network's WPA Password with Reaver (

Y our Wi-Fi network is your conveniently wireless gateway to the internet, and since you're not keen on sharing your connection with any old hooligan who happens to be walking past your home, you secure your network with a password, right? Knowing, as you might, how easy it is to crack a WEP password (, you probably secure your network using the more bulletproof WPA security protocol. Here's the bad news: A new, free, opensource tool called Reaver ( exploits a security hole in wireless routers and can crack most routers' current


How to Crack a Wi-Fi Network's WEP Password with BackTrack ( (
You already know that if you want to lock down your Wi-Fi network, you should opt for WPA encryption because WEP is easy to crack. But did you know Read (

passwords with relative ease. Here's how to crack a WPA or WPA2 password, step by step, with Reaverand how to protect your network against Reaver attacks. In the first section of this post, I'll walk through the steps required to crack a WPA password using Reaver. Y ou can follow along with either the video or the text below. After that, I'll explain how Reaver works, and what you can do to protect your network against Reaver attacks.


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( First, a quick note: As we remind often remind readers when we discuss topics that appear potentially malicious: Knowledge is power, but power doesn't mean you should be a jerk, or do anything illegal. Knowing how to pick a lock doesn't make you a thief. Consider this post educational, or a proof-of-concept intellectual exercise. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself.


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What You'll Need

Y ou don't have to be a networking wizard to use Reaver, the command-line tool that does the heavy lifting, and if you've got a blank DVD, a computer with compatible Wi-Fi, and a few hours on your hands, you've got basically all you'll need. There are a number of ways you could set up Reaver, but here are the specific requirements for this guide:

The BackTrack 5 Live DVD ( BackTrack is a bootable Linux distribution that's filled to the brim with network testing tools, and while it's not strictly required to use Reaver, it's the easiest approach for most users. Download the Live DVD from BackTrack's download page ( and burn it to a DVD. Y ou can alternately download a virtual machine image if you're using VMware, but if you don't know what VMware is, just stick with the Live DVD. As of this writing, that means you should select BackTrack 5 R3 from the Release drop-down, select Gnome, 32- or 64-bit depending on your CPU (if you don't know which you have, 32 is a safe bet), ISO for image, and then download the ISO. A computer with Wi-Fi and a DVD drive. BackTrack will work with the wireless card on most laptops, so chances are your laptop will work fine. However, BackTrack doesn't have a full compatibility list, so no guarantees. Y ou'll also need a DVD drive, since that's how you'll boot into BackTrack. I used a six-year-old MacBook Pro. A nearby WPA-secured Wi-Fi network. Technically, it will need to be a network using WPA security with the WPS feature enabled. I'll explain in more detail in the "How Reaver Works" section how WPS creates the security hole that makes WPA cracking possible. A little patience. This is a 4-step process, and while it's not terribly difficult to crack a WPA password with Reaver, it's a brute-force attack, which means your computer will be testing a number of different combinations of cracks on your router before it finds the right one. When I tested it, Reaver took roughly 2.5 hours to successfully crack my password. The Reaver home page ( suggests it can take anywhere from 4-10 hours. Y our mileage may vary.

Let's Get Crackin'

At this point you should have BackTrack burned to a DVD, and you should have your laptop handy.

Step 1: Boot into BackTrack

To boot into BackTrack, just put the DVD in your drive and boot your machine from the disc. (Google around if you don't know anything about live CDs/DVDs and need help with this part.) During the boot process, BackTrack will prompt you to to choose the boot mode. Select "BackTrack Text - Default Boot Text Mode" and press Enter. Eventually BackTrack will boot to a command line prompt. When you've reached the prompt, type s t a r t x and press Enter. BackTrack will boot into its graphical interface.

Step 2: Install Reaver

Update: This step is no longer necessary, as Reaver comes pre-installed on Backtrack 5 R3. Skip down to Step 3. Reaver has been added to the bleeding edge version of BackTrack, but it's not yet incorporated with the live DVD, so as of this writing, you need to install Reaver before proceeding. (Eventually, Reaver will simply be incorporated with BackTrack by default.) To install Reaver, you'll first need to connect to a Wi-Fi network that you have the password to. 1. 2. Click Applications > Internet > Wicd Network Manager Select your network and click Connect, enter your password if necessary, click OK, and then click Connect a second time. Now that you're online, let's install Reaver. Click the Terminal button in the menu bar (or click Applications > Accessories > Terminal). At the prompt, type:

a p t g e tu p d a t e

And then, after the update completes:

a p t g e ti n s t a l lr e a v e r

If all went well, Reaver should now be installed. It may seem a little lame that you need to connect to a network to do this, but it will remain installed until you reboot your computer. At this point, go ahead and disconnect from the network by opening Wicd Network Manager again and clicking Disconnect. (Y ou may not strictly need to do this. I did just because it felt like I was somehow cheating if I were already connected to a network.)

Step 3: Gather Your Device Information, Prep Your Crackin'

In order to use Reaver, you need to get your wireless card's interface name, the BSSID of the router you're attempting to crack (the BSSID is a unique series of letters and numbers that identifies a router), and you need to make sure your wireless card is in monitor mode. So let's do all that. Find your wireless card: Inside Terminal, type:

i w c o n f i g

Press Enter. Y ou should see a wireless device in the subsequent list. Most likely, it'll be named w l a n 0, but if you have more than one wireless card, or a more unusual networking setup, it may be named something different.

Put your wireless card into monitor mode: Assuming your wireless card's interface name is w l a n 0, execute the following command to put your wireless card into monitor mode:

a i r m o n n gs t a r tw l a n 0

This command will output the name of monitor mode interface, which you'll also want to make note of. Most likely, it'll be m o n 0, like in the screenshot below. Make note of that.

Find the BSSID of the router you want to crack: Lastly, you need to get the unique identifier of the router you're attempting to crack so that you can point Reaver in the right direction. To do this, execute the following command:

a i r o d u m p n gw l a n 0

(Note: If a i r o d u m p n gw l a n 0 doesn't work for you, you may want to try the monitor interface insteade.g., a i r o d u m p n gm o n 0.) Y ou'll see a list of the wireless networks in rangeit'll look something like the screenshot below:

When you see the network you want, press Ctrl+C to stop the list from refreshing, then copy that network's BSSID (it's the series of letters, numbers, and colons on the far left). The network should have WPA or WPA2 listed under the ENC column. (If it's WEP, use our previous guide to cracking WEP passwords ( Now, with the BSSID and monitor interface name in hand, you've got everything you need to start up Reaver.

Step 4: Crack a Network's WPA Password with Reaver

Now execute the following command in the Terminal, replacing b s s i d and m o n i n t e r f a c e with the BSSID and monitor interface and you copied down above:

r e a v e rim o n i n t e r f a c ebb s s i dv v

For example, if your monitor interface was m o n 0 like mine, and your BSSID was 8 D : A E : 9 D : 6 5 : 1 F : B 2 (a BSSID I just made up), your command would look like:

r e a v e rim o n 0b8 D : A E : 9 D : 6 5 : 1 F : B 2v v

Press Enter, sit back, and let Reaver work its disturbing magic. Reaver will now try a series of PINs on the router in a brute force attack, one after another. This will take a while. In my successful test, Reaver took 2 hours and 30 minutes to crack the network and deliver me with the correct password. As mentioned above, the Reaver documentation says it can take between 4 and 10 hours, so it could take more or less time than I experienced, depending. When Reaver's cracking has completed, it'll look like this:

A few important factors to consider: Reaver worked exactly as advertised in my test, but it won't necessarily work on all routers (see more below). Also, the router you're cracking needs to have a relatively strong signal, so if you're hardly in range of a router, you'll likely experience problems, and Reaver may not work. Throughout the process, Reaver would sometimes experience a timeout, sometimes get locked in a loop trying the same PIN repeatedly, and so on. I just let it keep on running, and kept it close to the router, and eventually it worked its way through.

Also of note, you can also pause your progress at any time by pressing Ctrl+C while Reaver is running. This will quit the process, but Reaver will save any progress so that next time you run the command, you can pick up where you left off-as long as you don't shut down your computer (which, if you're running off a live DVD, will reset everything).

How Reaver Works

Now that you've seen how to use Reaver, let's take a quick overview of how Reaver works. The tool takes advantage of a vulnerability in something called Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or WPS. It's a feature that exists on many routers, intended to provide an easy setup process, and it's tied to a PIN that's hard-coded into the device. Reaver exploits a flaw in these PINs; the result is that, with enough time, it can reveal your WPA or WPA2 password. Read more details about the vulnerability at Sean Gallagher's excellent post on Ars Technica (

How to Protect Yourself Against Reaver Attacks

Since the vulnerability lies in the implementation of WPS, your network should be safe if you can simply turn off WPS (or, even better, if your router doesn't support it in the first place). Unfortunately, as Gallagher points out as Ars (, even with WPS manually turned off through his router's settings, Reaver was still able to crack his password.

In a phone conversation, Craig Heffner said that the inability to shut this vulnerability down is widespread. He and others have found it to occur with every Linksys and Cisco Valet wireless access point they've tested. "On all of the Linksys routers, you cannot manually disable WPS," he said. While the Web interface has a radio button that allegedly turns off WPS configuration, "it's still on and still vulnerable.

So that's kind of a bummer. Y ou may still want to try disabling WPS on your router if you can, and test it against Reaver to see if it helps. Y ou could also set up MAC address filtering on your router (which only allows specifically whitelisted devices to connect to your network), but a sufficiently savvy hacker could detect the MAC address of a whitelisted device and use MAC address spoofing to imitate that computer. Double bummer. So what will work? I have the open-source router firmware DD-WRT ( installed on my router and I was unable to use Reaver to crack its password. As it turns out, DD-WRT does not support WPS (, so there's yet another reason to love the free router-booster. If that's got you interested in DD-WRT, check their supported devices list ( to see if your router's supported. It's a good security upgrade, and DD-WRT can also do cool things like monitor your internet usage (, set up a network hard drive ( tag=ddwrt), act as a whole-house ad blocker (, boost the range of your Wi-Fi network (, and more. It essentially turns your $60 router into a $600 router (

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Further Reading
Thanks to this post ( on Mauris Tech Blog for a very straightforward starting point for using Reaver. If you're interested in reading more, see: Ars Technia's hands on ( This Linux-centric guide from Null Byte ( The Reaver product page ( (it's also available in a point-and-click friendly commercial version. Reddit user jagermo ( (who I also spoke with briefly while researching Reaver) has created a public spreadsheat ( intended to build a list of vulnerable devices so you can check to see if your router is susceptible to a Reaver crack.

Have any experience of your own using Reaver? Other comments or concerns? Let's hear it in the comments.
Like 5k

Discuss (/posts/5873407/reply)

Author is participating chgotechguy (http://chgoguy


11 participants shido641 (http://shido641-ol



A Reddit user (@jagermo on twitter or jagermo [at] has posted a spreadsheet titled "WPS Vulnerability Testing" listing various devices and user submitted testing data. While the testing is not scientific, some may find it helpful. Be sure to read the comments and background information at the bottom of the spreadsheet, which includes a link where you can share your own testing data. Link to spreadsheet: [] ( key=0AgsJmeLMFP2dFp2dkhJZGIxTTFkdFpEUD...)

And here i thought i was so clever when i put my Mac filtering on, SSID Broadcast off, Limit DHCP to lease only 1 or 2 addresses and have a 23 character password consisting of alphanumeric and special characters. Time to rethink my security...I must say, i thank the guys that developed this because it gives me a challenge :)

1/09/12 11:15pm (

mrh829 (http://mrh829.kinj


Turning the SSID broadcast off won't do can actually reduce your security.

anything to enhance security; if anything, it 1/09/12 7:33am ( jagermo (http://jagermo-old.


The reason for this is that when the access point isn't broadcasting the SSID, your wireless device has to initiate the conversation, as opposed to the other way around. This means that if you take your signals asking your home SSID if it's there,

Thank you for the link. We can always use more devices, so "get crackin'" (you should only attack devices that you own, of course. We are not criminals.)

laptop to other locations, it will send out 1/09/12 8:32am ( 6 Melanie participants Pinola (http://melan Audi5000 (http://audi5000.

which could be recorded by any nearby device that's listening.


1/10/12 11:35am (

Link doesn't seem to be working. Trying this:

(/posts/466032677/reply) shido641 (http://shido641-ol [] ( 2 participants A list of devices that use WPS would be oh so 1/09/12 9:55am (

nice. Anyone know if 2Wire routers do?


Tristan (http://tristan-i.kinja. Well then i must have listened to the wrong 1/09/12Walternate 9:48am ( and one other... security guys lol...Thanks (/posts/466032530/reply) slaw ( Audi5000 Why not just use OpenWRT instead of DDWRT?
shockwaver and 7 others...

1/11/12 5:34am (


If it's anything recent, yes.

DD-WRT left a sour taste in my mouth a skinned version of OpenWRT (and weren't

while back when they were selling a re1/19/12 5:43pm ( Paul Burt (http://paulburt.kin

releasing source code!). Things are a bit different, but DD-WRT still comes action packed with un-editable binary blobs in what is essentially a FOSS software package. This be a no-no! The developer's logic behind doing this is to prevent other people from re-branding DDWRT and selling it. (If things have further changed, let me know and I may reconsider my blacklisting DD-WRT)

Except the Airport Extreme and Express. 2 participants Score one for Apple! Richard Milne (http://ricardo
slaw and 2 others...

10/30/13 4:51pm (


And this is why I tell people to disable WPS on their router.

1/09/12 6:24am (

The Stig's graphic designer c


1/09/12 5:34am (

belak (

Unfortunately, as Gallagher points out as Ars, even with WPS manually turned off through his router's settings, Reaver was still able to crack his password. while i agree with that step, it isn't a failsafe.

OpenWRT doesn't support all the routers that dd-wrt does. By all means, OpenWRT looks better than dd-wrt, but I can't check because OpenWRT doesn't run on my 6 participants Zak123 (http://zak123.kinja.

1/09/12 7:13am ( Linksys e2000.

1/09/12 8:07am (

Richard Milne (http://ricardo



Y eah I saw that, turn it off if you can I suppose would be more accurate advice, even if turning it off doesn't actually turn it off lol. I always turned it off because it just seems to be unnecessary anyways. It's a classic case of manufacturers trying to make life easier 1 participant but actually just making things worse.

Y ou people know that there is a MUCH easier way to get your neighbors password right? 1) Name your WiFi the same as your neighbors 2) Log password attempts 3) Wait.

1/09/12 2:05pm ( 1/09/12 8:36am ( skim32 (http://skim32.kinja.


Audi5000 (http://audi5000.

Just an FY I to Netgear WNDR3700 an 3800 owners. Disabling Router's Pin under the WPS Settings in the Advanced Wireless Settings section does protect against Reaver. *ahem* honeypot


1/09/12 3:22pm (

However I've read that other Netgear routers are showing mixed results. Such as the DGN2200. Disabling WPS in the DGN2200 just slows down Reaver but it eventually cracks it. Hope this helps some people.

polobunny (http://polobunny 2 participants



Saved password is saved. Can't bother jamesharrison1 (http://james waiting a day or two. :P

1/09/12 6:43pm (


1/09/12 12:48pm (

Surely life's too for all of this stuff? shido641 andshort 2 others... FriendlyFire (http://friendly0

6/26/12 3:51pm (

I'm glad I've made the right choice then. This Linksys thing seems incredibly dumb to (http://radio1.kinja do, even for them. (/posts/466032536/reply) nka ( Adam Pash 1/09/12 4:01pm ( Holy crap. I read all through this- panicking

all the while. Well, until the very end about dd-wrt. I run openwrt (kong) on my router.

I hope this article and others like it will catch the eye of the router manufacturers and that they will plug this security hole.

1/09/12 6:19am ( 1/10/12 6:44am (

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