KRACK Wi-Fi Flaw Symbolizes the Changing Security Landscape
Every so often a technology vulnerability is identified that is so pervasive that organizations and individuals must take extra measures to assess the risk posed by this fundamental flaw.
In this case, the technology is wireless networks that use the most popular, de facto wireless standard encryption available today: WPA2.
The recent key reinstallation attack (KRACK) subverted the implementation of WPA2 encryption and affected an estimated 50 percent of all smart phones and most other commercial and enterprise wireless infrastructure. Major operating systems including Windows, macOS, and FreeBSD are also vulnerable.
How to stop KRACK’s Wi-Fi breach
First, it is critical to understand your exposure by performing an inventory of all wireless equipment in use. This vulnerability affects both wireless access points such as your home or business router and wireless clients such as your cell phone or laptop.
While it can be difficult to perform a wireless survey in a large organization, knowing which wireless equipment is in use is critical to a comprehensive remediation path. Once an inventory is complete, work through each vendor to apply the security updates. GitHub is one of many websites that is tracking vendor response to the KRACK vulnerability. Check the site’s lists to look up the patch availability for a specific device.
Keep in mind, most wireless infrastructure equipment does not perform automatic updates and the patch may need to be applied manually.
If you’re using a wireless device that does not yet have a patch, the safest approach would be to stop using it. If that’s not possible, stick to websites that use HTTPS encryption. Also, make sure your antivirus software is up to date.
If you haven’t already, change your mindset on technology security
This vulnerability highlights an important aspect of security. The technologies we rely on and trust implicitly today are not perfect and may not even be in use five or 10 years from now. The strength of today’s encryption may be rendered obsolete due to advances in quantum computing. The authentication methods we use today (e.g., username/password and multi-factor authentication) may be replaced by full-fledged identity access management systems that correlate a variety of factors specific to an individual.
Security controls we once relied on to protect our organizations and personal devices will invariably become vulnerable due to advances in technology and research performed by attackers and information security professionals alike. Updates are released daily for your mobile phones, computers, applications, and other IT equipment with varying levels of criticality.
How we can help
If you want to maintain a reasonable security posture to defend against current threats, it is not enough to passively patch your systems. You must have effective vulnerability management programs and knowledgeable IT workers so you can prepare for infrastructural flaws and enhance your defenses in a timely manner. If you need assistance, we can assess your organization's cybersecurity resilience to help shore up your defenses in this changing security landscape.