Category Archives: Rant

Reproducing KoreK’s ChopChop attack is a pain in the ass

Well, getting a Netgear WNR1000v2, one of the recommended access points by WiFu, was also a pain in the ass since the product is EOL. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t reproduce this particular attack as the AP was not dropping properly the packets with invalid ICV.

I started to dig for some information. The product that I got was so old that basically was one of those unsold units. It came with the only firmware still available on Netgear’s support site that features WEP support. Actually, the only one who mentions this product in relation to WiFu is Samiux. WNR1000v2h2 is basically a WNR1000v2, but with internal antenna.

The things that I tried, but utterly failed

I tried the Netgear WNR1000v2 AP with firmware versions (the version that was installed on it), (basically the same as previous, but region locked to USA, so it would stick to FCC’s emission regulations), and (does not feature WEP support).

I dug up my retired ASUS WL-500g Premium. Tried the attack with the following firmwares: OpenWrt 12.09 (built the attitude_adjustment branch myself few months ago due to unstable b43 driver at the time of the 12.09 release), OpenWrt 10.03 brcm-2.4 (Linux 2.4.40, Broadcom STA / wl driver), and the first available factory firmware on ASUS’ support site, v1.9.6.9. Neither of them worked. OpenWrt 12.09 and the factory firmware created the illusion that it works, only to fail few seconds later.

I also tried to create a basic soft AP using hostapd. In reality, not all the drivers and hardware are the same. While it theoretically supports the nl80211 library in order to talk to devices that use mac80211 drivers, only some of the chips that support master mode can actual create a working AP.

My first try was a proof of concept on a piece of Raspberry Pi, but it didn’t work as I was using my portable stuff instead of the toys that stay at home in my proper Wi-Fi lab. I tried to create an AP using Unex DNUA-93F, powered by AR9271, but I had nothing to test it with. While Kali works on VirtualBox / OS X, the USB support is spotty at best and this card is the only one that can be used with a certain degree of reliability. So I had to switch to an ALFA AWUS051NH, powered by RT2770. I could get reliable packet injection starting from a fragmentation attack, but no dice with ChopChop.

In my home lab I tried to create a proper soft AP on a machine which runs Kali, but as previously mentioned, not all the hardware is the same. I tried to create an AP with the legendary ALFA AWUS036H, powered by RTL8187. For some reason, hostapd won’t start with this card if WEP is in use. Running hostapd with -dd added more confusion, hence I switched to the built in wireless interface, an AirForce One 54g, powered by BCM4318. The AP was created successfully, but every connected client wouldn’t finish the authentication and the log was flooded with “wlan0: STA […] did not acknowledge authentication response”. Which was odd as WL-500gP has the same Mini PCI card in it.

What finally worked

I created a soft AP using a TP-LINK TL-WN722N, powered by AR9271 (same as Unex DNUA-93F). For the internet connectivity I used the built in AirForce One 54g to connect to my actual AP.

For the configuration I used the information posted by nims11’s article about how to create a soft AP, but I used dnsmasq as DHCP server because dhcpd was being a pain in the ass (you can see a pattern here).

The hostapd config in /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf:


The dnsmasq config in /etc/dnsmasq.conf:

# disables dnsmasq reading any other files like /etc/resolv.conf
# Interface to bind to
# Specify starting_range,end_range,lease_time
# dns addresses to send to the clients

The initSoftAP for starting up the stuff:

#Initial wifi interface configuration
ifconfig $1 up netmask
sleep 2
###########Start dnsmasq, modify if required##########
if [ -z "$(ps -e | grep dnsmasq)" ]
#Enable NAT
iptables --flush
iptables --table nat --flush
iptables --delete-chain
iptables --table nat --delete-chain
iptables --table nat --append POSTROUTING --out-interface $2 -j MASQUERADE
iptables --append FORWARD --in-interface $1 -j ACCEPT
sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
#start hostapd
hostapd /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf
killall dnsmasq

Started it with ./initSoftAp wlan2 wlan0 (under root, obviously). I did the double-NAT over Wi-Fi because I was too lazy to add another patch cable over the already crowded desktop. Otherwise, it would be ./initSoftAp wlan2 eth0.

I booted up my desktop machine, started Kali in a VirtualBox VM, and made the ALFA AWUS036H to be available inside the VM. Did the usual drill (airmon-ng, airodump-ng, etc). I had to keep the antennas about 1.5 meters apart due to their radiation pattern.

I used my phone as testing client. I could browse the ‘net and I got the IP via DHCP, as instructed by dnsmasq. The ChopChop attack was running in unauthenticated mode, but the packets fetched from the phone as client were not usable. In fact, I don’t recall getting usable packets in unauthenticated mode.

I fired up another instance of aireplay-ng running fake auth and retried the ChopChop attack in authenticated mode. The first captured packet was a winner. Bam! I got the plaintext capture and the PRGA / xor file. Few minutes later, after creating an ARP packet with packetforge-ng and injecting it via interactive packet injection, I managed to crack the WEP key, therefore successfully completing the ChopChop challenge.

The end

It took me two long days, but I did learn a lot. I think the WiFu lab can be reduced to my desktop machine, running a couple of VirtualBox VMs (one for Kali, one for a soft AP), two Wi-Fi USB adapters, and a wireless client to play the victim role. This can be either a phone, a tablet, a notebook (this may be the host machine for VirtualBox and the victim), or another VM plus another USB adapter. I think hunting for old hardware for this course is a flawed idea. Sure, ALFA AWUS036H may be used after finishing this course, but the AP is going to be virtually useless.

Fixing the AMD AHCI drivers for SB7xx on Windows 7

I heard a lot of urban legends about the Windows Update service that messes up your machine. Of course, I dismissed all of them with the classic “worksforme” as didn’t happen to me. Until Microsoft delivered a 3rd party driver update via an optional package. You know, like the stuff that comes from the vendor and it isn’t properly tested. I had the lack of inspiration to check that too instead of simply ignoring it, like I usually do with Bing Desktop and Silverlight. The next thing was a BSOD at boot.

Had to disable the AHCI in BIOS and revert to using IDE mode for the SATA ports. Which kinda sucks for some reasons. The most important: the SSD performance is hurt under IDE mode, the TRIM command won’t work under IDE mode without 3rd party software since only the MSAHCI driver implements TRIM from Windows 7, and the fact that my HDD array doesn’t support NCQ under IDE mode.

When it comes to drivers, AMD is still a shitty company. Even more, their engineers didn’t grasp the concept of backward compatibility. Uninstalling the driver that broke my installation and installing a driver that works proved to be a non-trivial task. Fortunately I found this post on

For the sake of avoiding the link rot, I’m going to reproduce the essentials for posterity, with the same disclaimer as the original – you’re on your own if you mess up your machine and I’m not taking any responsibility if you follow these:

  • Delete any older version of the amd_ahci driver from here: C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository. The folders with older AMD AHCI drivers are named something like: amd_sata.inf_amd64_neutral_c85cc6046149a413 (i386 on 32-bit and most probably another hash). In order to remove the directory, you need to either elevate your explorer / shell to SYSTEM privileges, or take the ownership of the driver directory, add proper permissions, then delete it.
  • From HKLM/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/services delete amd_sata and amd_xsata. There’s no need to remove the entries without the underscore (amdsata and amdxsata).
  • Reboot the computer. Don’t change from IDE to AHCI. The driver that actually worked for my combination, which is AMD 780G / SB700 is this one. Execute the installer, wait till it finishes to copy the files to C:\ATI\Support, then cancel the setup when the Catalyst installer starts.
  • Open the Device Manager. Action » Add legacy hardware » Advanced mode » Show All Devices » Have Disk. Browse the extraction path for the above package: C:\ATI\Support\11-12_vista32-64_ahci\Packages\Drivers\SBDrv\SB7xx\AHCI. There’s a couple of directories: LH – for 32-bit and LH64A – for 64-bit. Select “AMD SATA Controller” then continue. Unlike the author of the original material, I didn’t get an error about the device not starting.
  • Reboot the computer. Don’t change from IDE to AHCI. Go to Device Manager. Under IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers should be at least an entry with a yellow exclamation mark, AMD SATA Controller. Uninstall “AMD SATA Controller” without checking “Delete the driver software for this device”. Reboot the machine.
  • Go to BIOS, enable AHCI. After boot, the OS installs the proper drivers, then prompts for another reboot. Reboot the machine. Done.

In my case, it simply fixed the driver installation from the failed Windows update as the driver that runs on my machine is from 2013 and the driver used in the above steps is from 2011. The drivers from the latest Catalyst, 13.4 failed to install via the “Add legacy hardware” method or via a standard Catalyst setup.


Some benchmarks with a SSD drive under IDE mode:


And some benchmarks under AHCI mode:


I guess the sharp drop was due to TRIM doing its job. Yes, it’s enabled:


Doing what Dropbox is doing and doing it wrong

Let’s take a couple of examples. Switched from an older machine recently, therefore I need to setup all my stuff. As I don’t like to depend on a single service, for redundancy’s sake, I also keep a backup for Dropbox.

SpiderOak – backs up stuff, uses client side encryption, has optional sync between your machines. So far, so good. In the latest OS X client, at least, the possibility to paste the password is missing. Thanks, I’ll me use my password manager instead with services that don’t do such a braindead thing. Seriously, there’s a thing that improves the security of the password authentication. It is called two factor authentication. Dropbox has it. Google has it. In fact, any decent service has it. Disabling the possibility to paste the password, not so much.

Google Drive – you wouldn’t think I’m letting Google of the hook this time. As I don’t trust with my data these sync services, I always do client side encryption. Dropbox doesn’t choke on it, SpiderOak doesn’t choke on it. Google Drive must be a special kind of breed as it chokes on my encrypted files with “Upload Error – An unknown issue has occurred “. Gee, let me fix the error message for you: “your piece of shit encrypted files aren’t of any use for us, there’s no personal info there”. Was it that difficult? Thanks, but the market is full of alternatives. Seriously Google, you could do better than this “not being evil” thing.

When no to use Amazon’s SimpleDB

When it turns out that the cost for keeping few gigabytes of data is too fucking much.

When it turns out that it is not keeping the most basic promises. The AWS marketing machine did it. Again.

When it turns out that the latency is absolutely crap. I mean, SDB vs. RDS, as shown by New Relic: 183 ms vs. 1.6 ms. And I’m only talking about averages. Plotting the whole stuff on a graph along with the standard deviation will drive insane a statistician.

I could go about this all day long. But why bother.

Will it recur? Part 2: in depth analysis

The social experiment

This first chapter is not about recursion. One member of the community wrote that certain inflammatory statements that I use may upset people. I replied with: “buzz marketing”. Neutral articles, with neutral titles, written by nobodies like me, gain zero traction, although I may write something that’s technically sound. Cheap journalism has more success. I even have graphs to prove it now.

The second stuff is the usefulness of my little experiment. I don’t know about others, but the curiosity was the main thing behind my whole benchmark. If it isn’t useful for some people, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful for others.

The other thing: the lack of tail recursion. I mean, do you need a “DUH” award, or something? The whole point of a “bad” algorithm that’s mathematically correct (well, almost, I stated that fibonacci(0) is wrong) is to prove how smart are specific compilers regarding recursion. The rest, simply do brute force.

Patterns that emerge

The numbers say something if you know how to read the page. There are runtimes that are optimized for doing proper recursion without bothering the programmer with it: C, D, PyPy, V8, LuaJIT, JVM. The rest aren’t: PHP, CPython, Ruby, Perl, Lua. PyPy and V8 could do better. LuaJIT is already close to the speed of unoptimized C and D. V8 isn’t the king of the hill if you take Ruby (MRI / KRI), CPython, plain Lua VM, and PHP (Zend Engine) out of the equation. This may be another opportunity to get bashed by the node.js benchmark police with “this is irrelevant” statements, although this wasn’t something that I wanted to prove.

Thing is, that for most of the web development, I rarely needed to actually solve purely recursive problems. At most a fairly simple tree. Sometimes even that simple tree didn’t actually require recursion. Therefore I get why some don’t optimize for this specific case, although they refer the thing as being “a general purpose language”.

For the “write better algorithms” crowd … WHY? The difference between C’s 0.6 seconds and Ruby’s 5 minutes doesn’t ring any bell that some things are fundamentally flawed regarding recursion?

As for the edge cases, there are 3rd party libraries that solve this issue without bothering the programmer. Or for other edge cases, such as applications that do complicated stuff, operating at Google-like scale, there are better tools that most mere mortals won’t use. The fact that some implementation do poor recursion is indeed irrelevant when the problems you’re trying to solve don’t include this.

In the end

Initially I wanted to try more stuff such as factorial, Euclid’s GCD, or the Ackermann function, for example. Try them on runtimes that don’t take longer than the next ice age to return a value. But why bother, except maybe to give the “one true way of doing recursion in functional languages” programmers a reason to bash stuff without returning any useful output. Not even an academic paper. It’s not productive.