Homelabbers rejoice! In this review we are welcoming the Protectli 6 Port Vault to the home security hardware market. We have been in the market for something like this for a few months and while researching several products we stumbled across a CPU requirement for pfSense version 2.5. This requires chipsets that support AES-NI and even though pfSense 2.4 isn’t out yet we at Hackmethod always like to future proof as much as possible. For full disclosure, we reached out to Brent at Protecli and asked when/if they would have hardware to support the AES-NI requirement. We were informed that they were working on a new line of products due for release in a few months and wanted to know if we would like to get our hands on one for review. That lands us here today with Protecli graciously providing the Hackmethod team with some hardware to test out. Thanks Brent!
The GPU is the graphics processing unit, sometimes referred to as graphics card or visual processing unit (VPU). Commonly used for processing imagery, it is used to handle resource intensive computations that may overload your standard Central Processing Unit (CPU). It is typically embedded within the motherboard or CPU of your standard home computer, but can be upgraded by buying a separate, graphics card. The GPU compared to the CPU, has thousands of cores working in parallel on multiple calculations at a time while the CPU works sequentially, one calculation at a time.
Application in Hacking
Although its general intention may have been to provide high textured graphics at a high frames per second, the GPU can be a very useful tool for hacking. Due to its high processing power and use of parallelization, the GPU makes the perfect candidate to crack hashes. No matter the hashing algorithm, with a high tier graphics card one would be able to calculate millions of hashes per second to bruteforce any hash table to crack the desired passwords. However, if the password is complicated enough and uses a good hashing algorithm, the time it takes to crack said password may not be feasible (see: hashes).
While other users may use their graphics card for rendering animations, playing video games, or being completely unaware of its existence, the GPU is a password cracker’s best friend. With it’s ability to calculate thousands or even millions of hashes per second it makes password cracking actually conceivable.
RAM stands for Random-Access Memory and is commonly referred to as RAM or Memory for short. It serves as temporary storage and working space for the operating system and its applications. This allows data to be accessed (read or written) in almost real-time regardless of the physical location inside the memory as opposed to HDDs, Disc Drives, or any other mechanical media. In the majority of computers, RAM is an easily upgradeable option that will increase the performance of your operating system and application usage. RAM is a volatile type of storage medium. Which means if you reboot, shutdown, or have a power loss of any sort, every bit of data residing in memory no longer exists.
Network interface cards or NIC’s are what connect computers to networks. If you haven’t heard about it yet, the OSI Model is the concept that all computers use to communicate with each other. There are seven layers the begin with the physical layer which go all the way up to the application layer. In layman terms, the OSI Model begins with connecting a network cable to your NIC, the data is is manipulated at each layer of the OSI Model and uses protocols at each layer arrives at the application made the request for information, for example Google Chrome. Each layer of the OSI model contains a protocol that is responsible for the movement and interpretation of data, for example a layer 1 technology would be Ethernet 1000BASE-TX this commonly referred to as Gigabit Ethernet. Its commonly seen in use with Ethernet ports in today’s home routers such as the ASUS RT-AC68U. An layer 7 application layer protocol would be something like HTTP which web browsers interpret and thus provide a graphical output to the end user.
The NIC resides at the physical layer and “somewhat” in the data link layer. The actual interface or port that the ethernet cable connects to is responsible for taking the electronic signal that travels the ethernet cable into computer useable data and vice versa, the process of encoding data or packaging data and placing it on a cable to be sent is called modulation.
The next layer that the NIC interfaces with is the data link layer, and this is where the packet MAC addresses are assigned or analyzed depending on the direction of the packet.
If you look at at the Wireshark capture below you’ll see the frame/ethernet header is where the NIC is interfacing with the packet. This is layer two.
In the case of wireless, the physical layer would be the wireless airwaves that the antenna on the NIC capture, basically ethernet cable = wifi radio signals. All NIC’s have antennas regardless if you see them or not, some are embedded within the device itself and some are external.
The short version of it is network cards are responsible for taking bits off of the wire or airwaves, packaging them up and sending them up the next layer of the OSI model for processing.
When looking at network cards you’ll see something like “Speed 10/100/1000Mbps”. Or you’ll see Fast-Ethernet (100 MBps) or Gigabit-Ethernet (1 Gbps). This is called Bandwidth and it is the amount of data that can be passed by the device or cabling during a given time.
When you hear the term network adapter chipset it will often be accompanied with Realtek, Intel, and Broadcom. These are just the names of companies that build the component or circuit that are responsible for managing data within the Network Adapter. This is important for two reasons. One is reliability and quality, some people would argue that one company products a better product than the other. The other is usually related to wireless injection because you need to make sure your chipset supports packet injection. Aircrack-ng lists chipsets that have been tested to work with their software during wireless cracking.
Your media access controller address or MAC address is unique and hard coded into to each network adapter device and is used to identify a device when connected to a LAN. A mac address can be also identify the manufacturer of the device chipset.
Application in Hacking
So why is this knowledge important when discussing hacking? First and foremost the basic knowledge of what a network card is and how it relates to the OSI module is important to understand for basic computer networking principles. These principles are the foundation of how your data gets from one computer to the other and without that knowledge it doesn’t matter what tool you use or how good your exploit is, if it can’t get to where it needs to go it simply won’t work. Additionally, when looking at intrusion detection systems or firewall logs its possible to pick out network packets that have been constructed by humans and not by machine. Attackers with strong networking abilities are usually much harder to detect than those without because they can craft packets that will avoid detection by typical methods.
It may seem arbitrary to discuss network cards, and its application in hacking may be a bit of a stretch. As a hacker or security professional its important to understand the inner workings of our tools and environment so that we can best leverage them against our opponents.
A few months back A1ph4byte, hellor00t, and I had a discussion about a project that would be both educational and useful. Despite being employed in the Network Security world, none of us had tinkered with pfSense in-depth prior to this venture. We mostly relied on the “strict” firewall rules of our SOHO routers. As enthusiasts not only would this serve as a fun and interesting project for us, but it would also serve as a guide/walk-through to others with our same interests. In addition, we thought it would be entertaining to VPN our networks together to build a somewhat larger “homelab” to test theories and attempt to mess with each others VMs, but that’s another write-up for a different time. The overall goal of this is to setup a more secure home network.
Today we’re going to go over the principals of wireless hacking, an example of a WPA2 hacking and then we will wrap it up with a few troubleshooting tips.
Disclaimer: Before we begin let me preface this. Intrusion into anyone’s network without express permission by the network owner is illegal. I highly recommend you practice these techniques on your own wireless network. I take NO responsibility in what you do with this knowledge.