KRACK Wi-Fi hack "devastating" to Android and Linux

The Krack attack - which needs attackers to be in close range of a target - takes advantage of WPA2's "4-way handshake" system which devices joining a network use to communicate securely.

The hack attack is called "Krack".

Dr Vanhoef, a researcher at KU Leuven, published the details of what he branded the KRACK (key reinstallation attack) on Monday.

The vulnerability, Vanhoef says, "can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos, and so on".

"It is likely that some products, particularly Android smartphones, and Wi-Fi routers, will never be fixed".

The worst affected are Linux and versions of Android including 6.0 and later, he said. He found the vulnerabilities accidentally while he was working on another paper.

The vulnerability is in the WPA2 (wifi protected access 2) protocol which prevents an attacker from seeing all of your data in plain text. However, there are separate attacks against HTTPS that could be employed.

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Critically, that also means you don't have to avoid all public Wi-Fi, as some have suggested - though it wouldn't hurt to stick with your mobile network and skip Wi-Fi if you are an Android phone user, for now. "When issues such as this arise, we put the security of our customers first and ensure they have the information they need to best protect their networks".

KRACK sees attackers con a victim into re-installing a key that is already in use. If an attacker sneaks in during this handshake process, they can read and even manipulate information as it's passed around the network. For enterprise Wi-Fi deployments, Ubiquiti noted that UniFi access points on firmware 3.9.3 and above are not affected by WPA2 key issues, but that fast BSS transition is still affected, though that feature is in beta. That key is shared via a collection of cryptographic "handshakes" that verify the identity of network clients.

Dr Vanhoef said that 41% of Android devices were vulnerable to this, with the empty encryption key effectively leaving communications unencrypted. As Vanhoef points out, there is nearly always going to be known data being passed at some point, so you have to assume that the encryption can always be cracked. Finally, you can change your passwords as an extra protective measure - this is the least important step, even though your instinct might be to change your passwords right away.

The fault lies in the setting of encryption key. Therefore, any correct implementation of WPA2 is likely affected.

Aruba: Aruba has been quick off the mark with a security advisory and patches available for download for ArubaOS, Aruba Instant, Clarity Engine and other software impacted by the bug.

Microsoft Corp. said in a statement to The Verge that it has released an update to protect Windows installations from the exploit, but the researchers nonetheless argued that the operating system is vulnerable to certain variations of the attack. It says there is no evidence that the attack has been used in the wild, though the research paper notes that such attacks would be hard to detect.

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