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Wi-fi security flaw 'puts devices at risk of hacks'

16 October 2017

"Therefore, any correct implementation of WPA2 is likely affected".

The researchers are preparing a proof-of-concept exploit which they are expected demonstrate later today through website, said Ars Technica. In other words, the attacker tricks the victim into reinstalling a key that is already in use. It looks like security researcher Mathy Vanhoef will present the (potentially) revelatory findings at around 10PM AEST Monday - although it's been worked on for some time; Vanhoef first teased the revelations 49 days ago. It can be exploited to access virtually any information being transmitted over a Wi-Fi connection, including login credentials, photos, financial information and more.

"We show that an attacker can force these nonce resets by collecting and replaying retransmissions of message 3", Vanhoef writes. Some versions of the WPA2 protocol can even send malicious traffic to connected from the looks of it mostly Lilux and Android devices seem to be the most effected.

According to Vanhoef, Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys, and many other vendors are affected by some variant of the KRACK attacks. "However, the security updates will assure a key is only installed once, preventing our attacks". A flaw in WPA2 allows a nonce to be (or forced to be) repeated, thus allowing an attacker to extract the WPA2 session key and compromise all traffic for that session.

The main flaw the researchers discovered affects the key, and is achieved by "manipulating and replying cryptographic handshake messages".

Arnold KL Yau told El Reg: "This sounds bad".

Most home and business wireless routers now using WPA2 should be relatively easy to upgrade to address the potential security issue, but the millions of Internet of Things wireless devices already in the world will be hardest hit - devices that are un-upgradeable, but will still need to connect to insecure networks or using soon-to-be-deprecated methods.

WiFi may not have been a secure connectivity option, as we have been led to believe. Frank Piessens of imec-DistriNet, who supervised his research, is credited as joint author of the paper. But security researchers are about to unveil to explain how hackers could hack any existing Wi-Fi connection and spy on all of your data.

If you're anxious about your security, various solutions can help you mitigate the problem while you wait for hardware companies to update router firmware.

Mark James, security specialist at ESET: "One of the biggest concerns here of course is getting routers patched - firstly getting the average user to check and apply any firmware updates and secondly, some older routers may not even have a patch available - the average household would acquire an auto-configured router, install it and forget about it, until possibly they change their internet provider".