A host of technology vendors including Microsoft, Cisco, Google, and Apple were moving to address a newly discovered
vulnerability that allows attackers to eavesdrop on network traffic.

Researchers this week disclosed a serious weakness in the WPA2 protocol that lets attackers within range of a vulnerable device or access point intercept data and in some cases inject ransomware or other malware onto a Website a user is visiting, according to published reports.

The vulnerability is called KRACK (for Key Reinstallation Attacks). According to researchers at Belgian university KU Leuven, serious weaknesses in WPA2—a protocol that secures all modern protected Wi-Fi networks—allow an attacker within range of a victim to read information that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted. They said attacks can be used to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos, and other data. The attack method works against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks, the researchers said.

The CERT Division of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University said attacks may include arbitrary packet decryption and injection, TCP connection hijacking, or HTTP content injection.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, which provides security information for Wi-Fi devices, said the issue can be resolved through straightforward software updates, “and the Wi-Fi industry, including major platform providers, has already started deploying patches to Wi-Fi users. Users can expect all their Wi-Fi devices, whether patched or unpatched, to continue working well together.”

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Bob Violino

Bob Violino

Bob Violino is a freelance technology and business writer who covers a variety of topics, including big data and analytics, cloud computing, information security and mobile technology.