I don’t want to scare the hell out of you, but you need to understand the massive size of this problem.
The good news is there is a solution. But we’ll get to that.
How many wifi hotspots do you log into on an average week? If you’re anything like me, it’s at least twenty. Coffee shops, coworking spaces, hotel rooms. The first thing we do is log in. Here’s the thing: EVERY SINGLE WIFI HOTSPOT IS POTENTIALLY EXPOSING YOUR PASSWORDS TO HACKERS.
Here’s what that means. Next time you log into the wifi at your favorite Starbucks, even if it’s just to check your email, you are now at risk of being hacked. If criminals have targeted that hotspot, they can turn it into their very own piggy bank, filled with your money.
Skilled hackers take their time. Once they have an in – the password to your Gmail for instance – they will use it to crack your social media and online shopping accounts systematically. This could be happening right now, and you would not know it.
But what they really want is a way into your credit cards and bank accounts.
When the hackers strike, it happens all at once. A message flashes on your mobile phone…your SIM has been canceled. You try and log onto Facebook, but all your social media accounts are the same story: INCORRECT PASSWORD. Desperate and in a total panic, you phone your bank. They won’t confirm anything about your accounts…because you might be the hacker.
You’re locked out of your entire digital life.
Getting back in can take days, weeks, or even months of complicated legal procedures that will cost $1000s. You better have understanding friend and family, who will front you $$$ to pay the rent. When you do get back in, the hackers have stolen every cent they can lay their hands on. And this is the good scenario.
If you’re lucky, you’re dealing with professionals. Thousands of unskilled amateur hackers do all of this just for “shits and giggles.” Malicious a**holes who will also blackmail you with the contents of your Gmail. Or just idiot kids who’ll get on your Twitter and fill your timeline with porn because they can’t get anything out of you.
Pros. Amateurs. Idiots. Whatever…you do not want these people in your digital life.
Here’s how to stop them.
The math underlying the Key Reinstallation AttACK – Krack for short – is kinda complex. But the principles are fairly simple. The data you send through a wireless hotspot is protected by the WPA2 protocol, which was considered very secure. That is until researcher Mathy Vanhoef found a huge weakness in WPA2 that makes it almost useless.
Vanhoef published the weakness on Monday. Rest assured, if the bad guys didn’t already know about it, they do now. Even as I write these words, there are thousands of hackers, working for the Russian mafia and other scumbag underworld outfits, building ways to exploit Krack any way they can.
Really, it is impossible to overstate just how serious this problem is.
This is what you can do:
NOW – download and install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app. This will instantly double lock your data, by adding an extra layer of encryption that can NOT be hacked by Krack. For the period of this emergency, Liquid VPN is free for an entire month so that you can secure your computer right now, no hassles.
TODAY – now your computer is safe, double check all of your online accounts for suspicious activity and logins. Update with new passwords if necessary.
ProTip: use memorable phrases with a code number as passwords instead of long strings of random text. They are just as hard to crack and being easier to remember means you don’t have to write them down anywhere.
THIS WEEK: install Liquid VPN on your phone, tablet and other devices. Use a VPN whenever you log onto a wifi hotspot you do not 100% trust. Until Krack is fixed, that means every hotspot you use.