Security Flaw Leaves Wi-Fi Devices Vulnerable to Hackers

Security Flaw Leaves Wi-Fi Devices Vulnerable to Hackers

The hole in Wi-Fi security affects the vast majority of Wi-Fi devices and networks.

At about 7 a.m. eastern this morning, security researchers revealed details of a new exploit called KRACK that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi security to let attackers eavesdrop on traffic between computers and wireless access points.

The security hole takes advantage of several key management vulnerabilities in the WPA2 security protocol, the popular authentication scheme used to protect person and enterprise Wi-Fi networks. The attack does not actually recover the victim's Wi-Fi password, it works by reinstalling the encryption key that's already in use which, due to a flaw in WPA2, can be used to remotely decrypt traffic.

Since this is a hole in the WPA2 protocol, it affects all devices in the same way.

"If your devices supports Wi-Fi, its most likely affected," researchers said.

So, this isn't good.

The United States Computer Emergency Rediness Team issued the following warning in response to the exploit:

US-CERT has become aware of several key management vulnerabilities in the 4-way handshake of the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) security protocol. The impact of exploiting these vulnerabilities includes decryption, packet replay, TCP connection hijacking, HTTP content injection, and others. Note that as protocol-level issues, most or all correct implementations of the standard will be affected. The CERT/CC and the reporting researcher KU Leuven, will be publicly disclosing these vulnerabilities on 16 October 2017.

The exploit was found by security researchers Mathy Vanhoef, from the imec-DistriNet research group at the KU Leuven university, who said depending on the type of encryption protocols one uses, the attacks can range from bad to worse. In some cases, an attacker will only be able to decrypt your traffic while in others they be able to take over your connection completely.

For example, 41 percent of Android devices and Linux variants are vulnerable to a particularly nasty variant of the attack, which according to Vanhoef, "makes it trivial to intercept and manuplulate traffic sent by these Linux and Android devices."

Other devices, such as iOS, Windows 7, Windows 10 and OpenBSD are vulnerable to only the most basic of attacks.

As of this morning, the Wi-Fi alliance has issued a statement on the vulnerability:

This issue can be resolved through straightforward software updates, and the Wi-Fi industry, including major platform providers, has already started deploying patches to Wi-Fi users. There is no evidence that the vulnerability has been exploited maliciously.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

  • Environmental Protection
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Infrastructure Solutions Group
  • Spaces4Learning
  • Campus Security & Life Safety