WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) is a security protocol; A popular authentication scheme used to protect personal and enterprise Wi-Fi networks. But, on Monday morning (10/16/2017), a serious weakness was discovered. The security protocol used to protect the majority of Wi-Fi connections was broken, potentially exposing wireless Internet traffic to malicious eavesdroppers and attacks. An attacker within range of a victim can exploit these weaknesses using Key Reinstallation Attacks (KRACKs).
Attackers can use this attack technique within range of a Wi-Fi network, which was previously presumed to be safe and encrypted. Attackers inject computer viruses into the Internet networks and read communications like passwords, credit card numbers, and photos sent over the Internet. Depending on the network configuration, it is also possible for attackers to inject and manipulate data. An attacker can even inject ransomware or other malware into websites.
When a device joins a protected Wi-Fi network, a process known as a four-way handshake takes place. This handshake ensures that the end user and access point both have the correct login credentials for the network and generates a new encryption key for protecting web traffic. This encryption key is installed during step three of the four-way handshake, but the access point will sometimes resend the same key if it believes that message may have been lost or dropped. Attackers essentially force the access point to install the same encryption key, which the intruder can then use to attack the encryption protocol and decrypt data.
If your device uses Wi-Fi, it’s likely vulnerable to the KRACK Wi-Fi security flaw to some degree, but Linux-based devices and Android devices running version 6.0 or higher of the Android operating system are especially at risk.
Important guidelines to protect from KRACK Wi-Fi flaws:
- Make sure you have a password on your Wi-Fi network. If you don’t, you’re at risk of all kinds of attacks.
- Update Your Computers, Windows has already released a patch for this vulnerability, and it can be downloaded directly from this page.
- Try not to connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as in hotels, coffee shops, and other public spaces.
- Most banking and online shopping websites use https, an encryption technique that protects you from this flaw. You can check by the little padlock on the top left corner of the screen by the address bar.
- The best thing you can do is update your router. Check who makes your router and try their website to find out how to patch it.
- Alternatively, you can also use a virtual private network (VPN) to hide your network traffic. Don’t trust random free VPNs; they can also be vulnerable.
Remember, many companies have released patches, the challenge for the user is to make sure those patches are applied. Otherwise, the security and privacy of devices will remain broken and vulnerable for as long as they’re connected with Wi-Fi.