A recent discovery in the world of networking discloses there is a serious flaw in the WPA2 protocol, we use for securing our Wi-Fi networks at homes and millions of businesses around the world. Researcher Mathy Vanhoef has labeled the weak spot as “Krack”, indicating that it is an exploit, which can be used for attacking the vulnerabilities during handshaking to steal personal data.
KRACK, short for “Key Reinstallation Attacks” is the new bane in the world of connectivity, which attacks can use for decrypting a wealth of sensitive data. The website responsible for disclosing the vulnerability said that anyone who manages to crack this space could possibly steal sensitive information, such as photos, emails, chat messages, passwords, credit card numbers, or inject malicious content.
Vanhoef provides proof of the “KRACK” existence by posting a video of bypassing WPA2 on Android and Linux. Something that we deem impossible, debunked before our eyes, raising questions as to whether some hackers knew about this vulnerability beforehand, or used it for stealing information to blackmail or simply collect data.
If you observe each step in the video carefully, you can see the attacker decrypting all data the phone is sending to the access point. This is possible by forcing the phone into reinstalling an all-zero encryption key, instead of using the real key. It further goes on to target the four-way handshake executed when clients join a WPA2-protected Wi-Fi network.
For those who are familiar with tech-jargon, you probably have an idea how the handshake helps in confirming that both the access points and client have the relevant and verified credentials. KRACK steps in by tricking the client into reinstalling an already-in-use key, which forces the client to reset packet numbers and other parameters to their initial values, hence concluding in a successful bypass!
What Happens If You Connect to an Attacked Network?
If you happen to establish a connection with an attacked network, you will not notice any difference in the Wi-Fi. The attacked network can also not prove completely successful in stealing your banking information and other private data that uses end-to-end encryption. However, it does grant intruders the ability to capture the data sent and received. This means, they will need to decrypt and unscramble it first, but who is to say they may not – especially if it is a targeted attack.
In most cases though, an attacker may be doing things like redirecting traffic on a Wi-Fi network or sending bogus data. This may also increase the chances of phishing attacks, which were very abundant during the initial years of the internet. It may also be easy to read all traffic coming to and from a client, but if you are protected by TLS and HTTPS protocols, you will remain safe. Nevertheless, until further instructions are given, it is imperative to avoid using the Wi-Fi at all or follow the steps below.
What Can You Do To Stay Safe?
- Update All Devices/Operating Systems – Many technology companies have released new versions that provide additional security from the KRACK vulnerability. Check for updates on your devices Microsoft too has recently released a security update for patching the exploit.
- Avoid Public Wi-Fi – It is imperative that you avoid connecting to Wi-Fi networks in public. This includes Google protected hotspots. Steer clear from any untrusted network, until there is further word on how to receive complete protection.
- Secure Devices – If you do need to use the internet, make sure to connect to secure locations and websites that use HTTPs protocol. This encryption protects your data by scrambling the information sent and received.
- Subscribe to a VPN – One of the best ways to protect yourself full-time until further notice is to use a reliable VPN service. By masking your IP address and adding an extra layer of security to your connection, all data will remain completely secure.
- Use a Wired Network – If you need to use the internet on your computer or laptop, instead of using the Wi-Fi, consider plugging in an Ethernet cable. The exploit only affects 802.11 traffic between connected devices and Wi-Fi routers.
The news of KRACK vulnerability has caused great chaos in the online world with many worried about their sensitive data. Make sure to follow the abovementioned steps to keep yourself safe and do not forget to share the article with your friends and family members. We will update this blog, as soon as a permanent fix comes to shore.