KRACK Attacks: What They Are & Why They Matter

Abstract black and white image of zeroes and ones on a computer screen

The detailed release of the discovery of KRACK attacks, AKA Key Reinstallation Attacks, by Mathy Vanhoef threw the Tech community into chaos this past week. The main reason being that the attacks exploit weaknesses in WPA2, the most popular and secure protocol that secures a majority of Wi-Fi networks, meaning the weaknesses are in the Wi-Fi standard itself which was originally proven to be mathematically secure. To put it simply, any modern Wi-Fi router and Wi-Fi connection are at risk, and no one thought it was possible.

Why The KRACK Attack Discovery Matters

For a full technical explanation of KRACK attacks check out the official website created by the discoverer of the WPA2 weaknesses, Mathy Vanhoef. The main thing to know about KRACK is that it targets weaknesses in the third step of the four-way authentication “handshake” that happens whenever you connect to a protected Wi-Fi network. The reason this matters is because WPA2 was previously proven to be mathematically secure and, as a result, is now used worldwide as the most popular Wi-Fi security defense meaning the vulnerability impacts almost everyone that uses secure Wi-Fi networks.

With successful KRACKs, hackers can implement “man-in-the-middle” eavesdropping attacks, which allow hackers to identify and steal packets of information valuable to them sent across your network, like credit card numbers, passwords, emails, customer information, tax documents, and more. It also opens the door for the possibility of ransomware and other malicious code injections. So, your once protected Wi-Fi network is now on the same security level as unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, which if you didn’t know you definitely should never use given what an eavesdropper, referenced above, can easily see.

Are You or Your Business At Risk?

If you or any elements of your business use Wi-Fi connectivity, then yes, you are at risk. When the news first broke earlier this week the most secure solution proposed was to refrain any and all Wi-Fi use. That should give you some context on how serious this vulnerability discovery is.

Now, it’s time for some good news. First, hackers must be in range of your Wi-Fi network in order to carry out a KRACK attack. So no, you’re not suddenly exposed to hackers all over the internet. Next, patches are being released rapidly by various manufacturers of routers, devices, or systems that are most vulnerable to KRACK, like Linux, Android, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, and more. Third, there’s no proof that these attacks are being used, yet. (However, it can happen without the Wi-Fi provider or recipient being aware.) Lastly, the Wi-Fi Alliance, the org which certifies Wi-Fi devices adhere to set standards of interoperability has developed a plan to help resolve the weaknesses identified in WPA2.

KRACK Attack Solutions

While you aren’t subject to cyberattacks from hackers across the globe when it comes to KRACK attacks, you are at risk for local hackers that would identify you as a valuable target for the attack. Here are a few solutions to implement now to avoid becoming a victim of these types of attacks moving forward:

  • Keep devices up-to-date. Have your IT team monitor patch releases and ensure all employees update their devices as patches are rolled out. These patches will only take effect on updated devices, so any device that utilizes Wi-Fi connectivity needs to be regularly updated to ensure the patch has been implemented. Turning on automatic updates for all devices would be the most secure solution moving forward, so patches are downloaded automatically. This should also include routers. Business-focused networking providers like Netgear, Intel, and others have already released router patches. Have your IT department ensure all network hardware used by your business has been patched.
  • Use only HTTPS websites. That extra “S” can mean the difference between being hacked and keeping your business or personal information secure. These websites remain secure even with the Wi-Fi security break. Instruct employees to visit only HTTPS websites on both personal and business devices.
  • Stick to a wired connection, if possible. For the short term, have employees stick to a wired connection rather than a wireless connection. This will remove any possibility of becoming a victim of a KRACK attack and secure the valuable and vulnerable data sent across your networks.
  • Hire cybersecurity professionals. If you’ve prioritized other needs over cybersecurity or your IT team lacks key cybersecurity skills, now is the time to hire critical cybersecurity roles for your business. Hiring Cybersecurity Engineers or Security Incident Responders can help prevent these types of attacks and can also help assess and minimize the damage done if you are the victim of a cyberattack.

Although recent and upcoming patches for core devices and systems from Apple, Microsoft, and other manufacturers should resolve the possibility of experiencing KRACK attacks, they won’t be enough to secure IoT devices or the vast array of routers used in our homes. As previously reported, IoT devices are extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks and even more so for KRACK attacks given the fact that these devices number in the hundreds of thousands and rarely receive the required software updates to resolve security issues. While products out of the box will now be protected against this vulnerability, things like your home router, internet-connected fridge, and security camera will remain at risk for these attacks for the foreseeable future.

If you lack the specialized Cybersecurity talent you need to protect against these types of attacks, contact Mondo today. We have the specialized experts you need to keep your Wi-Fi network, devices, and data secure in the increasingly vulnerable, tech-driven world we live in.

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