Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) was introduced in 2003 and then was quickly replaced in 2004 with WPA2, a new and improved version of WPA.
You may not know what WPA2 is because it’s fairly unobtrusive, but it has been the Wi-Fi security standard for the last 14 years and is built into almost all home and business routers.
Essentially, it is a method of protecting the content that goes between your wireless device and your router so that once the router acknowledges that your device’s Wi-Fi password matches the one in its memory, devices not connected to the network can’t spy on the traffic you’re sending back and forth.
So why do we need WPA3?
Although WPA2 has done a pretty good job all these years, it started to struggle with handling the level of connected devices (and the approach many users have towards security!)
In fact, it got to the point where a flaw meant that all Wi-Fi networks became vulnerable to attack – which got the ball rolling for the Wi-Fi Alliance to make some changes.
Quite a few things, actually. The overall objectives of WPA3 is to improve simplicity and strength.
1.) Protection Against Brute-Force Attacks
WPA3 will make it harder for your Wi-Fi password to be cracked—even if you choose less complex passwords. The handshake limits the amount of times you can guess a password incorrectly and unsuccessful password attempts are automatically tracked by the new protocol. (But guys, you really should be using good passwords anyway!)
2.) WPA3 Forward Secrecy
WPA3 uses SAE (Simultaneous Authentication of Equals) handshake to offer forward secrecy. This means if an attacker captures an encrypted Wi-Fi transmission, then cracks the password, they still won’t be able to read the older data — they’d only be able to see new information currently flowing over the network.
3.) Protecting Public/Open Wi-Fi Networks
WPA3 strengthens user privacy in open networks such as airports, coffee shops etc. through individualised data encryption, a feature that encrypts the wireless traffic between your device and the Wi-Fi access point to mitigate the risk of Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks.
4.) Strong Encryption for Critical Networks
Using WPA3 Enterprise, critical Wi-Fi networks handling sensitive information (such as government, and industrial organizations), can protect their Wi-Fi connections with 192-bit encryption.
But that’s not all!
There is an ever-growing list of network enabled devices, which make up the Internet of Things (IoT), but that doesn’t always mean that it’s easy to connect them to a network. For example, if there isn’t a screen or some other display to use. To simplify this, WPA3 introduces Easy Connect, which lets you connect everything together with a single ‘middle man’ device.
This means your smartphone or tablet, can be used to manage everything connected to your network from one interface. Ultimately, you’ll end up having a network of connected devices and smart home equipment, without having to use various different passwords or wasting too much time.
Will it be easy to just ‘get’ WPA3?
It’s not quite certain how many WPA2 products that home users and businesses currently own will be able to meet the new standards of WPA3 certification with software updates.
It may be the case that many manufacturers will be more interested in selling new products with the new certification, rather than adding WPA3 functionality for free to existing hardware.
The first WPA3 certified devices are expected to debut towards the end of 2018 and in the meantime, WPA2 will still be used until it is eventually phased out.
If you’d like us to conduct a security assessment of your current Wi-Fi network, please get in touch.