All Wi-Fi Networks Are At Risk Of Getting Hacked: Researchers


KRACK – or Key Reinstallation AttaCK – is possibly a new threat, which exploits the Wi-Fi security loopholes to allow attackers to eavesdrop on the data between computers and wireless access points. More details would be available once researchers make the announcement about the same on Monday. However, in the meantime, the U.S. government has issued a warning on this Wi-Fi security loophole.

Mathy Vanhoef, a security expert at Belgian university KU Leuven, discovered the weakness in the Wi-Fi security protocol WPA2, and published details of the flaw on Monday morning.

As reported by Ars, the exploit takes advantage of several vulnerabilities in the WPA2 security protocol, the authentication scheme used widely for protecting personal and enterprise Wi-Fi networks. So, almost every Wi-Fi network could have been compromised. The WPA2 standard is used in almost every home Wi-Fi network, and thus, an issue with them could mean that any network accessing it is vulnerable.

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“This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos and so on,” said Vanhoef. The researcher says that the vulnerability affects several operating systems and devices such as Windows, Android, Linux, MediaTek, Linksys, etc.

For weeks now, the researchers have been protective of the research, which they have now decided to make public. On Sunday, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US CERT) issued a warning that the organization has stumbled upon various management issues in the 4-way handshake of the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) security protocol. It further stated that the effect of exploiting these weaknesses includes packet replay, decryption, TCP connection hijacking, HTTP content injection among various other issues.

“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 October 16, 2017,” the warning read.

Although the issue raises the alarm, it definitely does not mean that all the activities done by the users would be under the control of the hackers from now on. Also, the hackers will not be able to affect the systems at faraway places as the vulnerability largely depends on the connectivity and communications within the Wi-Fi networks for those who are using the WPA2, instead of the certificate-based authentication system or some other mechanism. However, in case the loopholes are made open along with an exploit kit, the hackers can affect the system by getting within the wireless range of the network, notes Lifehacker.

Also, since the publication of the vulnerability was withheld, there are good chances that major wireless vendors ARE already working on the fix, or have already found one.

The WPA2, which is currently used in homes and wireless routers, could be easy to upgrade for addressing the vulnerabilities. However, the greatest risk would be to the millions of Internet of Things wireless devices that are un-upgradeable, notes Gizmodo.