"Honey, the Wifi is out"
“Wait, there’s more? Weren’t Spectre and Meltdown enough to deal with!? C’mon! You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Ok, ok, the world isn’t ending with this issue, but it is very serious nonetheless. And unlike Meltdown and Spectre, this one actually has a real and permanent fix. So don’t fret...there are ways to protect yourself...keep reading.
Let me quickly explain what’s going on...
[Tip: If you are all caught up on Wifi issue, jump to our “Tips” section at the bottom of this blog, which will tell you how to deal with this. Even better, book an appointment so that we can make sure your computer is updated and is protected.
What it is:
Recently, researchers discovered a flaw in a common encryption protocol…
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! What the heck is a ‘common encryption protocol”’?
Sorry...I hate tech jargon too…not sure what came over me. Let’s start over.
Recently, researchers discovered a flaw in the type of password you use to protect your home wifi network. This affects your wireless router, and could allow hackers to intercept your credit card info, passwords, photos and just about anything else on all of your devices.
“Wait, isn’t that the same thing you told us about Meltdown and Spectre?”
Well...yeah, sort of. But this one can be permanently fixed.
These discovered flaws, dubbed “Key Reinstallation Attacks” or “Krack Attacks” (names which, unlike the awesome “Spectre” and “Meltdown” names, sound more like a hardware store instruction manual and an SNL Godzilla movie skit respectively), have nothing to do with the type of wireless router or hardware you own. (A wireless router is the device that allows you to have wireless internet in your house or business. You may be using a wireless router from your cable company, or you may have bought your own, such as an Apple AirPort Extreme). Instead, this flaw has to do with how all routers protect your wireless network. The password you give your friends when they ask, “Hey, what’s your wireless password?”...that’s what is compromised. So, this affects you. And it’s bad. One report said it could be “particularly devastating” for all computer users.
How does it happen?
This vulnerability forces your device to join a new fake network without your knowledge. It then gives the fake network the exact same name as your real one so you won’t notice a difference. Theoretically, someone on that fake network would be able to steal your data (passwords, photos, etc.). If you are using an Android or Linux device, it’s even worse, thanks to a bug in the encryption method used on those devices.
As you can see, this is a serious issue.
How to fix it:
There is a fix for this! Yep, a full on fix. It’s not a hardware design flaw like with Spectre and Meltdown, it is instead a simple firmware glitch. To fix it, we can run a firmware update on your routers, and voila, you are back to safety (well, except for that tiny thing called Spectre...and Meltdown….AHH!!!...but other than that, you are totally safe).
Running a firmware update on your router is not always the most obvious or easiest thing to do for most consumers. However, we are glad to come by and run these firmware updates for you (this update will likely only take 15 - 30 minutes, depending on how many routers you have, and will help protect all of your personal information).
Below are some general tips to always be aware of. Long-time “An Apple A Day” blog readers (aka people who have read the only other tech blog we’ve written, which was finished only minutes before this one!), will recognize these tips since they are the exact same ones we posted previously.
RUN YOUR UPDATES! ;-)
1) run your updates (yes, even those of you who hate updates and who are terrified that updates will ruin your computer...do it. The alternative is...a melt down).
2) don’t install apps or programs unless you are 100% sure they are safe (when in doubt, call, email or text us. We’d even accept a carrier pigeon message...which would be really cool)
3) don’t click on links in emails unless you are 100% sure they are safe or legitimate (or make sure you have your gas mask on before you click….KIDDING!).
4) update your passwords. UPDATE YOUR PASSWORDS!! (Sorry, my cat stepped on the SHIFT key). But seriously...update your passwords. All of them. Do it. It’s really important.
5) CALL US and book an hour maintenance appointment so that we can make sure your computer is updated and protected. If all, part or even none of the above is daunting...get in touch with us! We can help with all of these things, including just talking through how to stay safe in this dangerous online world. The steps you need to take are not difficult, and you can live your life normally. But they are important steps.