This theme is very timely this week as news broke of a wireless encryption vulnerability called KRACK, that could allow a hacker to infiltrate a secure wireless network. It sounds bad, and it is. However, for this vulnerability to work, the hacker needs to be in close proximity to both your wireless device and the wireless access point. It also requires robust computing capabilities, but it could do serious damage if successful.
Most vendors have already released patches to protect against the KRACK vulnerability. The question then becomes, have you installed those updates? Hopefully you subscribe to a proactive Managed Services program like those that the company I work for, Onepath, delivers to our clients. We proactively notified our clients of this vulnerability and fast tracked the testing and deployment of the updates to fix it.
The most important thing you can do to protect your wireless network is to choose a strong wireless password, or better yet, passphrase. Secure your wireless network with a phrase like “We want to do everything possible to secure this network.” That is hard to crack as the longer the passphrase, the more computing power required to break it. Most hackers are criminals of opportunity. If it’s easy to break, they will come at you. If it looks to be difficult to break, most will move on and look for an easier target. These are also often lazy hackers in some respects.
Another consideration to keep in mind regarding wireless networks is understanding the risks of public wifi. You should never do anything sensitive on a public wifi hotspot. It is extremely easy for a hacker to create a “man in the middle” attack and sit on the public wifi and get in between your device and the network to snoop on your activity or steal your username, password or account numbers.
One way to protect yourself is to use a VPN, either provided by your company or one that you subscribe to. These VPN’s will secure your activity on the wireless network by encrypting the traffic from your device, across the wireless network and online. Another option is to use the personal hotspot feature on your smartphone. Using the cellular data network is inherently safer than using public wifi.
Check out this tip sheet for more suggestions to keep your safe on wireless networks and more.