Avast Blog

WPA2 Wi-Fi vulnerability demands efficient tools for securing business networks

Written by Greg Mosher | 20 October 2017

Due to a new security vulnerability uncovered on Monday regarding WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) protocol, it’s been a busy week for IT teams tasked with securing business networks—not to mention employee devices and machines.

WPA2, a security technology used on all certified Wi-Fi hardware and Wi-Fi networks, enables the strongest encryption option for wireless network traffic. An upgrade from WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA2 protects and secures communications across routers, mobile devices, and internet of things (IoT) devices.

Through the new vulnerability, dubbed KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack) and uncovered by security researcher Mathy Vanhoef, any device using WPA2 encryption could be a target for attackers looking to gain access to secure Wi-Fi networks, intercept and steal data transmitted across a Wi-Fi network, and potentially access computers and other devices on those networks.  

According to Michal Salat, our Threat Intelligence Director, “The vulnerability puts any WPA2 protected network at risk, especially public networks such as those offered in hotels and restaurants. Android version 6.0 and higher and most Linux distributions are particularly easy targets as the bug in these implementations can force the client into resetting the encryption key to a predictable value of zeros, allowing complete takeover of communications.”

The range of modern Wi-Fi and the close proximity of some small business offices to other establishments leads to plenty of opportunity for someone to gain access to an SMB’s Wi-Fi traffic and subsequently compromise the SMB’s network.

Best practices for IT teams tackling the WPA2 Wi-Fi vulnerability

According to Salat, “It’s important for users to be extra vigilant when logging into online services. To further mitigate the risk of disclosing wireless internet traffic to bad actors, other secure protocols like HTTPS should be used when browsing the web. Luckily, most websites provide HTTPS certificates. They can be identified by the green padlock in the browser’s address bar.”

Below is our list of additional best practices we recommend following to ensure you’re protected:

    • Patching: Apply the recommended patches to ensure machines on networks are no longer vulnerable.  
    • Virtual Private Network (VPN): Begin using a VPN with any Wi-Fi network, not just the open unprotected ones.
    • Site Security Assessment: Perform regular checks on network health and run security assessments to identify risks and demonstrate gaps in security.

Patch management, VPNs, and security assessments

Avast business products offer a strong defense for small and medium businesses. Here’s a look:

Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus includes device, data, and identity protection in one endpoint protection solution with features such as:

  • SecureLine VPN: Ensures every connection is private and prevents anyone from seeing or stealing your data,  no matter what network or Wi-Fi your employees use.
  • Wi-Fi Inspector:  A network scanning tool that finds and fixes whatever weaknesses might be putting you and your business at risk.
  • Software Defender: Updates third-party applications automatically.
  • Four-shield Protection: Real-time security defenses that automatically scan files, emails, websites, and programs on your PC.

Optional Management Console

  • All Avast Business Pro Plus features can be managed through either a cloud or on-site management console for more centralized and automated deployment, management and reporting.

Managed Workplace and CloudCare

  • Both of these solutions integrate all the Avast Pro Plus Antivirus features into the platform.

The discovery of this WPA2 security vulnerability, in addition to all the recent data hacking making the news, has been a wake-up call for the business community. SMBs need to keep themselves thoroughly protected with next-gen cybersecurity. Learn more about the Avast portfolio of business products and keep yourself, your data, and your company safe.