Wi-fi KrackAttacks: What you need to know

Security protocol issue means almost every Wi-fi network is vulnerable


Wi-Fi wireless router and phone on the floor

Wi-fi was not built to withstand the security challenges of the 21st century, and many cyber security experts advise caution when using it. Those warnings became more relevant than ever this month after the disclosure of a series of Wi-fi vulnerabilities. Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to perform a wide variety of attacks, including intercepting and modifying your internet traffic while it's exchanged between devices and routers.

As the issue relates to the WPA2 security protocol, it affects practically every single person in the world that uses Wi-fi networks. Originally introduced in 2004, the protocol is now a widely-implemented standard used in practically all Wi-fi networks and devices.

So for almost 15 years, it's been used as a defacto standard for Wi-Fi. Which means almost every Wi-fi network (and devices that use them) are vulnerable to the attacks, dubbed KrackAttacks by researchers.

"How vulnerable individuals are depends a bit on things like what device they're using, but this is something that could potentially hurt anyone that uses Wi-Fi without taking the proper precautions," says Jarno Niemelä, Lead Researcher at F-Secure Labs.

"But security problems with Wi-Fi protocols are a well-known issue. This is just another needle in the haystack of network security deficiencies people need to know about."

But there is the silver lining.

We've actually been living with the risks created by insecure Wi-fi connections for many years, and users can protect themselves by taking some basic security precautions.

Here's the best ways to stay safe from KrackAttacks and other threats targeting people through their Wi-fi connections:

Use a VPN

A VPN (virtual private network), such as F-Secure Freedome encrypts your data while it's in transit. This is a great way to secure your information when using Wi-Fi, and should be considered essential when using a publicly accessible Wi-Fi network.

Update your devices

Attacking routers is a means to an end for attackers. What they're really after are your devices. They want to steal your credit card info, passwords, and other data. And that's what the KrackAttacks are actually doing. Updating your devices' software and operating systems is sound security advice, so use this as a reminder to make sure your desktops, laptops, phone, and tablets are all updated.

Update your routers

Routers have a long history of security problems. They're often poorly supported by device vendors (and in some cases not at all). You should check your router's settings to see if there's a firmware update available, or possibly the website of your router's manufacturer or vendor.

TalkTalk customers can also download SuperSafe internet security on to one device for free (worth £39 a year), and SuperSafe Boost which protects up to eight devices for only £2 a month - worth £99 for a year. Just log in to My Account, select the package you want and you will receive an email from F-Secure to install it onto your device.