Security Advisories

WPA2 security flaw

Wifi Security problem

What is it? WPA2 is the encryption protocol used by most WiFi access points. Most homes, offices and businesses use wireless network and internet services in some manner, whether it is for portable devices used in the business, or internet access for customers and guests. More and more devices in the home are not plugged in to the network, they are wireless. This is a great convenience, but the problem is that the radio signals used don’t just travel to your device. They don’t even stop at the wall. They can be picked up hundreds of feet away.

Next time you are sitting at Starbucks, enjoying your latte and checking your email, take a moment to look around. What is the person intently working on their laptop doing? Homework, business, or could they be watching what you are doing. Would you want them to have the password for your email, bank info, or credit card? Would you want them to know when you are not going to be home? It is really possible for someone to be watching all of that. In some locations the cash register that you just put your card in may also be on this wireless network. We know of several businesses in the Torrance area that do have their cash registers and other computers exposed to the public wireless network.

To control this it has been recommended for some time that wireless networks be encrypted. This means that you have to enter a password to get on it. Previous encryption types have been WEP, and WPA, but they were compromised, so the current is WPA2. Now WPA2 has been compromised.

What this means for you, is that you will need to be even more careful. Equipment will need to be updated as soon as the patches come out. This includes gateway routers, and Wireless Access points (WAP) While it is still better to use WPA2 than to use nothing, it is not enough now, and additional precautions need to be taken, such as using encrypted web sites that have https at the beginning of the URL. These will be either SSL or TLS encryption. VPNs (Virtual Private Network) are recommended to access business computer network systems. Email should be encrypted, since not only could the content of your messages be read, but your mail client sends your password every time it checks the mail.

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