Mobile Critters: Part 4. Wi-Fi Attacks

Wi-Fi attacks

Cyberattacks always were and will continue to be a highly sensitive topic, especially now that after the pandemic has slowed down, many people are driven to work from home or other out-of-office locations.

According to IT professionals, increased remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic has increased cybercriminal activity. One of the most widely used forms of assault is WI-FI attacks. As millions log in daily to work or learn from home, hackers are busy on the prowl, seeking to exploit WI-FI network vulnerabilities. 

Let us learn more about this cyber threat and its different forms.

What is a WI-FI attack?

Wireless networks are an integral aspect of how we conduct our business in modern society. Most of us appreciate the benefits of wireless networks, such as easing processes and increasing access to internet services. Practically, WI-FI networks have allowed us to reduce the cluster caused by hundreds of wires while also increasing connectivity speeds. However, securing these wireless networks remains a major challenge for individuals as well as organizations. 

Today, wireless networks have become more vulnerable to intruders and external attacks. The situation is exacerbated by the sophisticated tools and methods at the disposal of modern hackers. As a result, WI-FI network attacks have become relatively common. Also known as wireless network attacks, they involve penetration and intrusion assaults that target wireless networks. This type of attack poses a severe threat to personal and organizational data. Wi-Fi attacks aim to capture information or compromise traffic sent across the network. 

Types of WI-FI attacks

  • Packet Sniffing

Packet sniffing takes advantage of the nature of wireless networks by targeting information packets sent over the air. Given the sophisticated nature of modern hacking techniques, it is easy to capture these packets. Wireless networks such as HTTP, SNMP and RTP are plain texts, a common feature that makes them prone to packet sniffing. Attackers with malicious intentions can use Wireshark, a free access tool, to steal passwords and sensitive information through this form of assault. 

  • Rogue Access Point

Any unauthorized access point (AP) on a network is referred to as a rogue access point. Hackers create and install these malicious access points to make the wireless network vulnerable to DoS attacks, ARP poisoning, or packet captures. A rogue access point can also be used to infect a network with malware that utilizes WI-FI BSSID for victim identification. To protect against this type of wireless network attack, organizations must embrace the authentication process and install network access controls and protocols. 

  • Jamming

Jamming is a common hacking technique used to interfere or disrupt the network. Wireless features make interference almost impossible to avoid. If a microwave oven or a pair of Bluetooth headphones can cause interference, how more are networks vulnerable to sophisticated hacking methods? Typically, jamming techniques are combined with other techniques, such as evil twinning. Protection against this cybersecurity threat requires strengthening of access points and investing in a spectrum analyzer. 

  • Evil Twinning

Evil twinning involves getting and configuring a wireless access point as the existing network. By creating an "evil twin," attackers can use the access point to compromise the network without detection. The "evil" access point is almost indistinguishable from the authentic one. A successful assault allows the hacker to steal critical information sent over the compromised network.

The easiest way to prevent evil twinning is data encryption. In this way, intruders cannot access your data even if they succeed in creating an evil twin. 

What if you are using public WI-FI?

Let's admit it, we all love free stuff, especially if it is public WI-FI! However, public WI-FI users are more at risk from hackers because they cannot secure the network as they would their own. The explosion of free public WI-FI has been a massive boom for learners, working professionals and virtually all public members. 

So how do you secure your mobile devices such as smartphones over a network that you cannot manage privately? In this case, the following strategies will enhance protection: 

  1. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to ensure robust data encryption
  2. Using SSL connections by enabling the "Always Use HTTPS" option on frequently visited websites
  3. Avoid unsecured public Wi-Fi that hackers often target due to relaxed safety standards 
  4. Turn off sharing from the control panel or system preferences
  5. Keep the WI-FI connection off if it is not needed
  6. Ensure your device has an Internet security solution installed and running when connected to a public hotspot
  7. Regularly delete your smartphone’s browsing histories, cache, and cookies