Wi-Fi network vulnerability presents a severe security flaw

Image iStock

Image iStock

Hopefully by now everybody has ensured that their home wireless network and devices are all connected using the latest Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) method of encryption, which has so far served us all well.

Earlier today the information security community was in a tizzy because WPA2 had supposedly been cracked open like a coconut on a tropical island. Researchers say, ' If your device has Wi-Fi support, it probably has to be revealed.

"This makes it trivial to intercept and manipulate traffic sent by these Linux and Android devices", warned Vanhoef, who pointed out that more than 40% of Android devices (including any device on Android 6.0 and above) are vulnerable to this attack.

It affects WPA2, a protocol used to secure Wi-Fi networks. The flaw, if successfully exploited, could enable a hacker to spy on your data and gain access to other unsecured devices sharing the same WiFi network.

"We released fixed versions last week, so if you upgrade your devices routinely, no further action is required", said MikroTik.

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The Wi-Fi Alliance, a group of companies that defines Wi-Fi standards and certifies products, said it will now test for the vulnerability as part of its certification process and provide a detection tool to any of its members.

The bug, known as "KRACK" for Key Reinstallation Attack, exposes a fundamental flaw in WPA2, a common protocol used in securing most modern wireless networks.

Because of the depth and nuance of this vulnerability, collectively KRACK has 10 CVE identifiers assigned to it. Vanhoef described it in stark terms: "This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos, and so on". For a successful KRACK attack, an attacker needs to trick a victim into reinstalling an already-in-use key, which is achieved by manipulating and replaying cryptographic handshake messages or influencing him by providing wrong info messages.

According to Mr Vanhoef every computer, phone and any device that has Wi-Fi connectivity is at risk.

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) is a government agency responsible for analyzing and reducing cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

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Attacks can be carried out only in close proximity to a WiFi network.

Ideally, all manufacturers and developers will patch their products to fix this issue.

'One of the biggest concerns here of course is getting routers patched- firstly getting the average user to check and apply any firmware updates and secondly, some older routers may not even have a patch available- the average household would acquire an auto-configured router, install it and forget about it, until possibly they change their internet provider.

Linux's wpa_supplicant v2.6 is also vulnerable to the installation of an all-zero encryption key in the 4-way handshake. Failing to do so with a wireless access point, for example can quickly leave you with an expensive, oversized paperweight. Companies are now rolling out updates to computer and mobile operating systems, as well as firmware for routers and other internet devices.

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