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Wi-Fi WAP2 protocol flaw leaves users with no security cover
March 23 2018, 01:35 | Alexander Lowe
Illustrator by Alex Castro The Verge
Any and all devices using a Wi-Fi connection are vulnerable to an attack by hackers, security researchers have revealed.
The US-CERT researchers noted that 41 percent of all the Android devices are vulnerable to an "exceptionally devastating" form of the Wi-Fi attack. This exploit will also allow hackers to potentially inject ransomware or other malicious content on web pages. "We agree that some of the attack scenarios in the paper are rather impractical, do not let this fool you into believing key reinstallation attacks can not be abused in practice", says Vanhoef, who has authored a 16-page academic paper on the vulnerability along with Piessens.
"It means in practice, attackers can decrypt a lot of Wi-Fi traffic, with varying levels of difficulty depending on your precise network setup".
The vulnerability has more to do with flawed implementation than the protocol itself. Microsoft has said that it has already patched the vulnerability on October 10 to protect the Windows devices from the security flaw. Researchers found devices using Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek and Linksys were affected.
"There is no evidence that the vulnerability has been exploited maliciously, and Wi-Fi Alliance has taken immediate steps to ensure users can continue to count on Wi-Fi to deliver strong security protections", reads a statement published today by a Wi-Fi industry trade group.
Belgian researchers Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens of Belgian university KU Leuven disclosed the bug in WPA2, which secures modern Wi-Fi systems used by vendors for wireless communications between mobile phones, laptops and other connected devices with Internet-connected routers or hot spots. The attack works against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks. Google says it is working on a patch, and Microsoft says it's already released a security update to fix the issue.
Now since the vulnerability is so widespread, tech giants will have to speed up the patch process and issue updates to their users as soon as possible. The ideal solution right now would be to unhook these devices from the Wi-Fi network, and check with the manufacturer for KRACK patches.
I don't see this becoming a major threat to most users unless and until we start seeing the availability of easy-to-use attack tools to exploit this flaw.