Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities Revealed, Some Dating Back to 1997

Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities Revealed, Some Dating Back to 1997

Security researcher Mathy Vanhoef has discovered an assortment of Wi-Fi vulnerabilities called Frag Attacks, reports ZDNet. Frag Attacks (abbreviated from fragmentation and aggregation) consist of hardware and software weaknesses which can be exploited while in Wi-Fi zones, with some existing since as far back as 1997. Such attacks can cause device breakdown, user data loss (including logins and passwords) and provide access to an internal Wi-Fi network. In response, Daniil Chernov, Chief Technical Officer for Solar appScreener, has given advice on how to protect yourself against Wi-Fi attacks.

Eliminating hardware vulnerabilities can be cumbersome since manufacturers have to re-architect and roll out devices, which must then be purchased by users. The good news is that exploiting most of the revealed Wi-Fi hardware vulnerabilities requires interaction with a user or default router settings. In order to protect data, enable WPA2 encryption in Wi-Fi security settings to ensure hackers are unable to exploit hardware weaknesses.

While relevant patches are expected to be released soon, you should take precautionary security measures until all of the vulnerabilities are fixed.

In particular, Wi-Fi logins and passwords should not coincide with other credentials to prevent an intruder from easily accessing them. When browsing, make sure you are using an HTTPS connection, which is usually marked by a lock icon opposite the address bar. If there is no icon like this, refrain from sharing sensitive information as the data exchange is poorly protected. While a VPN can protect data in such a case, Wi-Fi connected devices might still be exposed to the possibility of breaking down. If there are IoT devices in your house, make sure they are not autonomous access points, but all connected to the router. To do this, enable NAT (Network Address Translation), which will create an additional barrier. In order to break in IoT devices, intruders will then have to hack a Wi-Fi router first. 

Previously, the same issue occurred with WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), a security algorithm created to protect Wi-Fi networks. A long-term encryption standard vulnerability was detected that enabled intruders to decrypt Wi-Fi traffic relatively easily. In response, the vulnerable WEP algorithm was replaced with WPA, and later WPA2 and WPA3 using higher-level encryption.

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