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Newly Discovered Vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi Date Back to 1997

After several months working with the Wi-Fi Alliance and ICASI, security researcher Mathy Vanhoef has released a research paper detailing several vulnerabilities impacting the design and implementation of the Wi-Fi standard. Vanhoef has named these vulnerabilities “FragAttacks,” short for fragmentation and aggregation attacks. Although not all devices are vulnerable to all attacks, practically all devices that have Wi-Fi capabilities are vulnerable to at least one, with some being vulnerable to multiple. This includes devices going back to 1997 all the way through WPA3, the latest specification. Fortunately, according to the website, the design flaws ae difficult to abuse due to user interaction or uncommon network settings being required for a successful attack to take place. Vanhoef’s biggest concern is with the implementation or programming of Wi-Fi products since “several of them are trivial to exploit.”

Analyst Notes

FragAttacks is very wide-reaching, spanning devices from 1997 to the present. Fortunately, there are no currently known attacks taking place. Organizations are highly advised to check with their vendors for security updates as soon as possible. In cases where devices don’t yet have a security update, Vanhoef recommends making sure that visited websites are using HTTPS, and recommends installing the HTTPS Everywhere browser plugin by the Electronic Frontier Foundation which makes sure that HTTPS is automatically used anywhere that it is available. Although this will help in some cases, it is also highly recommended to keep all devices on the network up to date.