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Millions of Android phones put at risk by mobile Wi-Fi security flaw

(Image credit: Image Credit: Chris Oakley / Flickr)

A new exploit has been discovered in the Wi-Fi standard that allows attackers to intercept and read the communications between mobile devices and wireless access points as well as modify them to inject malware into websites. 

So far it seems that devices running Android and Linux are the most affected by this exploit with 41 per cent of all Android phones susceptible to an attack.  However, since the exploit is based on the Wi-Fi standard itself, any device running Windows, Android, macOS, iOS and Linux can fall victim to this new attack method. 

There is a catch though and to be vulnerable, devices need to be within physical range of an attacker.  Once the exploit is used, an attacker can read a wide variety of information between a device and the network it is connected to such as emails, messages, passwords and credit card numbers. 

Devices running Android 6.0 or later versions of Google's mobile OS contain a vulnerability that make them especially vulnerable to a variant of the Wi-Fi attack that can be used to inject ransomware (opens in new tab) or malware into websites.  However, Google (opens in new tab) is aware of the issue will be issuing a security patch for the affected devices in the coming weeks. 

Due to the nature of this attack, simply changing your Wi-Fi password will not help prevent attacks.  The researchers that discovered the exploit (opens in new tab) do recommend updating all of your devices to the latest security patch as well as updating the firmware on your router if possible. 

Image Credit: Chris Oakley / Flickr

Anthony Spadafora
Anthony Spadafora

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.