The Wi-Fi Alliance has officially unveiled WPA3, its next-generation security standard to keep wireless networks better protected, alongside a move to streamline the setup of the likes of smart home gadgets.
As you may be aware, WPA3 follows on from the currently employed WPA2 standard, which has been hit by security vulnerabilities that have led folks to question its overall strength in recent times.
So, the arrival of WPA3 is clearly important, and the Wi-Fi Alliance is delivering the fresh standard in two forms, one aimed at the home user, and one for businesses: WPA3-Personal and WPA3-Enterprise.
Both flavors are designed to provide far more robust security, with users benefiting from Protected Management Frames (PMF) to defend against malicious parties eavesdropping on their data transmissions.
The home user whose router supports WPA3 – either via a future firmware update, or because it’s a new piece of hardware with support built-in – can further expect a tougher system of password-based authentication, even when they choose a weak password (which happens in more cases than it should).
That’s because WPA3 introduces Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), a security protocol which provides better defenses against potential password guessing attempts.
For businesses, WPA3-Enterprise boasts the equivalent of 192-bit encryption to better protect the company’s vital data.
Another big move is the introduction of Easy Connect, a new system which makes it easy to hook up devices that have a limited display (or perhaps none at all) to your Wi-Fi network. In other words, this is aimed at Internet of Things gadgets, and allows these devices to be added to the wireless network simply by scanning a QR code with your phone. Naturally, those IoT gadgets will then benefit from WPA3 security.
So, we can expect a shift towards WPA3 to slowly begin, although as VentureBeat reports, momentum isn’t likely to really gather until next year (when next-gen 802.11ax Wi-Fi hits the scene). In the meantime, WPA2 will continue to be fully supported and kept up-to-date by the Wi-Fi Alliance.
The eventual plan is that WPA3 wireless hotspots won’t be backwards compatible with WPA2, as outdated legacy protocols will be given the cold shoulder. But, for the foreseeable future, there will be a ‘transitional mode of operation’ for WPA3 which will maintain compatibility with WPA2 devices as the shift to the more secure Wi-Fi protocol gradually occurs.
The sooner that WPA3 can be ushered in, though, the better, particularly when we consider the likes of the KRACK Wi-Fi flaw which was discovered in WPA2 last October.
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