WPA3: A major upgrade from WPA2

Wireless is the new normal for the world now. With the current advancements in wifi technology, the majority of us have left wires and cables in the past, and we solely rely on waves and signals to remain connected. However, can the same improvement be shown for Wifi security? Most of our wireless connections are protected by security protocols that were introduced in 2004 or earlier, which is 15-year-old technology. And unfortunately, many wireless routers being manufactured today are still backwards compatible with WEP, a security protocol introduced in 1999 and seriously susceptible to cyber hacks. So it seems in an era of rapid advancement and releases of newer technology, wifi security is lagging behind.

However, the Wifi Alliance has heard these concerns and worries loud and clear, and the good news is the next generation Wifi security protocol WPA3 has been released. WPA3 is said to be the solution to many of the inherent weaknesses of the previous Wifi security protocols.

What is WPA3?

The next generation of network security, called WPA3, is now in a public beta. The new standard is expected to be much more secure than the current WPA2 system, which came to light in 2016 as a major security flaw in WiFi networks. WPA3 is designed to add better encryption and authentication to WiFi networks, making it harder for attackers to gain access to sensitive data. It is also expected to enable gigabit speeds and much faster wireless connections for devices and enable 5G wireless connections and the next generation of mobile devices. The standard will be backwards-compatible with WPA2, so most devices will be able to connect without an upgrade.

WPA3 is made up of three different forms, which work together to protect your wireless network. The first form is WPA3-Personal, designed to provide the strongest level of protection. It offers the same level of protection as WPA2, but it uses stronger encryption methods to prevent attackers from gaining access. The second form is WPA3-Enterprise, created for larger organizations that are more security-conscious. And finally, the third form – WPA3-Enhanced Open Mode – increases privacy in open networks and prevents passive eavesdropping by encrypting traffic. However, anyone can still connect to the network.

Let’s take a closer look at the new standard, what it means for users, and how to get the most out of it.

Developments and WPA3 features to look forward to

Better password protection

People aren’t great at creating passwords, and they usually end up being easily guessable. Hackers are well-versed in the world of popular passwords, and they are often able to access devices through this rookie mistake. WEP, the first wireless protocol, didn’t help matters, and the government didn’t feel the need for the private sector to have strong encryption technology. WPA2, WEP’s successor, acted as a slight upgrade from WEP with wireless encryption, making it more secure than WEP. But still highly susceptible to hackers as they could still make unlimited attempts at guessing passwords.

WPA3 eliminates the ability of hackers to attempt to access a device an unlimited amount of times through a new key exchange protocol, “Simultaneous Authentication of Equals” (SAE). SAE only allows a single password submission per request, with extensions of time for the multiple passwords guessing process. For example, if a hacker were to try and hack a device, they wouldn’t be given unlimited attempts to access it so easily. With every incorrect attempt, they would have to wait more and more, and the involved time to hack a password would become very cumbersome.

Therefore, WPA3 protects good and bad passwords alike. Those who are unable to come up with tricky and creative passwords will be relieved to know they are much safer under WPA3.

Open networks aren’t so much of a hazard with WPA3.

Typically, open networks could leave your device susceptible to hacking. In open networks, smart hackers can listen in between devices and try to decrypt communication between websites or cashier machines, as sensitive information is exchanged, such as bank passwords or credit card numbers.

When it comes to open networks, WPA3 security is a major upgrade from WPA2 systems. With an enhanced protective protocol in place – Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) – WPA3 security allows networks that do not offer passwords and keys to still provide encryption without requiring client devices to have any prior configuration settings. Through Individualized Data Protection (IDP), traffic is encrypted as soon as a device connects to the wireless network and receives its key from the access point.

Improved IoT security management

A major challenge for businesses, organizations and even consumers is ensuring security for their growing number of IoT devices. Many of these IoT gadgets lack any sort of screen, making device security a complicated process. However, there are companies like Xunison that are able to ensure full security for their IoT devices with the help of their easy-to-use consumer app BriteKey. BriteKey lets consumers manage which devices can connect, monitor how they are being used, and protect the home network from threats, all from one convenient interface.

WPA3 adds to IoT device security and introduces a protocol called “Easy Connect” allowing connected IoT devices to be more streamlined and secure. WPA3 protocols let the admin use tablets or phones as dashboards to access the device’s Wifi configuration settings. Instead of depending on passwords, each device will have its respective scannable QR code. After the device is scanned with your smartphone, the device and router will automatically connect, saving the hassle of entering passwords every time you want to add a device to your network.