WPA3 – A Big Step for Wireless Security

Published on January 19, 2018

WPA3 – A Big Step for Wireless Security

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to technology, but one thing we can all agree on is the importance of security. No matter the industry, it is always a top concern. Since introduced in 2004, Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) has been the primary security offered by the Wi-Fi Alliance. However, since its adoption 14 years ago, technology has evolved while WPA2 has more or less stayed the same. Cyber attacks have become more sophisticated, attackers have access to greater computing power, and new attack methods are being developed. The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has brought forth an ever-growing number of devices equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, and all are vulnerable to these attacks. Vulnerabilities, such as the recent KRACK bug, have reinforced the call for better security. Last week, the Wi-Fi Alliance released the long-awaited update to WPA2. WPA3 is the latest level of security that provides configuration, authentication, and encryption enhancements to Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices.

What's New with WPA3:

  • Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE): This is a new feature in WPA3 that replaces the 802.11 “open” authentication that is widely used in hotspots and public networks. Unencrypted open networks have no security at all, so anyone with a wireless sniffer can intercept the data being shared on the network. Implementing OWE provides these networks with encryption without authentication. No provisioning, no negotiation, and no credentials are required – it just works.
  • Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE): SAE replaces WPA-PSK to mitigate attacks against Pre-Shared Keys.
  • Device Provisioning Protocol (DPP): Replaces WPS to mitigate security flaws and provides a user-friendly way to provision devices without displays and/or keyboards.
  • Suite B: Stronger link-layer encryption and stronger authentication methods – Suite B uses a set of cryptographic algorithms defined by the United States NSA. WPA3-Enterprise adds on an optional interoperability certification of Suite B cryptographic algorithms to meet market needs for strong, uniform algorithm use.

WPA3 is a much-needed security update that addresses many of the concerns and known weaknesses of WPA2. In addition to improving security, WPA3 is much more user-friendly by simplifying the configuration of complex security protocols. This makes complex security more accessible to broader markets and device types, which benefits everyone using Wi-Fi.

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