Friday, October 20, 2017

Key Reinstallation Attacks Can Allow Criminals to Hack Your WPA-2 Wireless Communication

Technological advancement, which can be greatly beneficial in many ways, can also make it more difficult for you to protect your personal information. Years ago, before the advent of the internet, rates of identity theft were far lower than they are today. Identification documents and private data were not nearly as available before the era of the internet. However, now that hacking is so prevalent, we must do what we can to improve our cybersecurity and prevent hackers wherever possible. According to Samantha Masunaga's recent L.A. Times article, the latest vulnerability to address lies in WPA-2 protocol, the current industry standard for Wi-Fi protection.

WPA-2 is the fundamental protection built into most wireless communication available around the world. Until recently, it was considered the best way to protect your online information, but researchers in Belgium found a vulnerability in the WPA-2 protocol that can allow a hacker to use "key reinstallation attacks" to intercept wirelessly transmitted information, even over encrypted networks. The hacking technique, also known as "Krack," is able to target systems powered by operating systems including Windows, Apple, Android, and Linux. From computers to modems to Wi-Fi enabled refrigerators; anything on your network could potentially be hackable.

The researchers found that Kracking is most effective against computers running Linux and devices running the latest version of Android OS. The hack could be used to capture information in sent emails, credit card numbers, browsing data, and even photos and videos sent to contacts. The hacking technique, while powerful, may not be as great a cause for worry as might be expected. According to the analysts, the hacker would have to be highly skilled and in close proximity to the targeted device. Therefore, any hacker looking to use Krack would likely target large corporations, where they might find a better payout.

To protect yourself, you should download any patches released by manufacturers as soon as they are released. For Windows devices, leaving "automatic updates" selected will let your computer take care of the threat for you. Many Apple devices have already received fixes for the vulnerability and others will receive software updates within the next couple of weeks. Google is working on releasing patches for Android devices as quickly as possible. Until that's all wrapped up, you can protect yourself by sending encrypted emails, being careful with online transactions from certain devices, and adding passwords to shared files that contain sensitive information.

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