frag attack vulnerability

Frag Attack Vulnerability: How to Stay Protected

Despite new safety innovations in Wi-Fi devices, issues can still occur. Surprisingly, most Wi-Fi devices can be susceptible to a frag attack vulnerability. Frag attacks have been around since the late 90s. 

However, these types of attacks are new to users today, especially since nearly everyone has a device with Wi-Fi capabilities. As a result, many still slip through the cracks, even with companies issuing patches to eliminate these vulnerabilities. 

This guide will explore precisely what these frag attacks are and how users and companies can prevent them. In addition, Arlington’s trusted managed IT services can also stop these fragmented attacks. 

What Exactly Are Frag Attacks? 

Also called aggregation attacks, frag attacks operate under one of three methods: 

  • The first method takes advantage of Wi-Fi’s frame aggregation. The cybercriminal tricks the user into changing specific packets’ settings. Then, the attacker can intercept the user’s traffic using a hostile DNS server. 
  • The second method involves a mixed key attack, taking advantage of a Wi-Fi device’s fragmented frames. Attackers will mix fragmented frames with different keys, extracting a network’s data. 
  • The third method operates under a fragmented cache attack. This method exploits any non-reassembled fragments inside a device’s memory. Cybercriminals essentially inject malicious fragmented frames into the device’s cache. 

The primary purpose behind a frag attack is to trick a person’s network device into doing something unsafe. These attacks can also inject hostile plaintext frames resembling Handshake messages. 

Currently, 12 frag attack vulnerabilities exist, with three of these vulnerabilities resulting from design flaws within Wi-Fi devices. The rest experts have attributed to programming errors. 

What Harm Can These Frag Attacks Do? 

Unfortunately, a frag attack vulnerability can arise even when networks use WPA2 or WPA3 encryptions for security. For example, cybercriminals will cause WPA2 and WPA3 networks to reassemble fragments using non-consecutive packet numbers.

Once users connect to a corrupted network, the frag attack injects dangerous data, tricking the device into operating under a hostile DNS server. 

Due to a design flaw in Wi-Fi, the computer doesn’t alert users that the frag attack has altered their data. Instead, after visiting an unsecured website, the malicious DNS server sends them to a copied website. 

Next, the cybercriminal will capture the user’s keystrokes, allowing them to gather sensitive information like passwords and usernames. Of course, when cybercriminals have access to passwords and usernames, they can quickly steal credit card or banking information. 

Many attackers also inject manipulated pockets of data that can break through a router’s firewall. When this attack occurs, the cybercriminal can unmask a victim’s IP address and destination ports accessing their device. 

Armed with this new access, attackers may take screenshots of the user’s device or even run programs on the device’s interface. 

Who Discovered These Frag Attack Vulnerabilities 

Mathy Vanhoef first discovered this frag attack vulnerability, a researcher who also discovered the KRACK” Wi-Fi vulnerability in 2017. Currently, Vanhoef is a postdoctoral researcher at New York University Abu Dhabi. His research deals with computer security. 

Are All Wi-Fi Devices Susceptible to These Attacks? 

Since a frag attack vulnerability targets Wi-Fi, any device that can access Wi-Fi can be vulnerable. Essentially, this means any device can suffer from a frag attack. 

However, older devices are particularly the most vulnerable to these attacks. Once a device reaches a certain age, a manufacturer will stop issuing new patches. These new patches help improve a device’s performance and safeguard it from new cyber threats. 

Additionally, unpatched newer hardware is also vulnerable to these frag attacks. 

How Can Users and Companies Safeguard Their Devices Against These Attacks? 

While any device can be vulnerable to a frag attack, no evidence suggests cybercriminals are targeting such vulnerabilities. Additionally, these vulnerabilities have existed for two decades, but Vanhoef just discovered them recently.  

However, while it appears hackers aren’t explicitly targeting networks using these frag attacks, it’s still good practice to protect against them. Some ways users can better secure their networks and devices include: 

  • Use HTTPS for encryption when using your Wi-Fi network. Browers like Firefox can even alert users when certain websites don’t use HTTPS. 
  • Users can install the HTTPS Everywhere plugin on their browsers to make using HTTPS more accessible. 
  • Use applications that can encrypt locally transferred files on a network. 
  • Frequently update any device that uses Wi-Fi, including IoT devices. 
  • When connecting to any public Wi-Fi network, users should use a VPN (a virtual private network), which can mask your IP address. 
  • Companies should have Wi-Fi training programs in place for all of their workers. These training programs can especially be vital for remote workers, and businesses can even have employees use separate devices for their work. 
  • You can also read more about Vanhoef and his research on GitHub. His GitHub includes information further detailing frag attack vulnerabilities, including how to test for them. 

How Are IT Support Networks Handling These Vulnerabilities? 

Before sharing his findings with the public, Vanhoef alerted the Industry Consortium for Advancement of Security on the Internet (ICASI) and the Wi-Fi Alliance. Doing so allowed tech companies to start issuing patches that eliminated these risks immediately. 

For example, the Wi-Fi Alliance created an update on May 11th, 2021, explaining how routine device updates can eliminate these vulnerabilities. So far, there haven’t been any significant frag attacks, but IT teams are still working to eliminate these potential threats. 

Right now, IT networks are working directly with manufacturers, businesses, and users. 

At Herrod Tech, we can work directly with you and your networks to ensure you don’t suffer from vulnerabilities like frag attacks. Since 2000, our company has happily serviced many users and businesses. Besides preventing attacks, we can help with the following: 

  • Dealing with a slow internet 
  • Wireless networks kicking users off
  • Devices running slow
  • Full system failures (Blue Screen of Death) and much more

Call Herrod Tech Today 

To protect your Wi-Fi devices and networks from a frag attack vulnerability and other issues, let our Herrod Tech team help. We proudly serve companies and organizations of various sizes and scopes. 

Discover the importance of disaster recovery for your business by scheduling a call with Herrod Tech. 

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