The WiFi Alliance Introduces a New WPA3 Protocol with Enhanced Security Features

February 27, 2018

This month, the WiFi Alliance has announced its intention to enhance the security features of the WiFi Protected Access (WPA). For nearly 14 years now, the initial WPA and the subsequently released WPA2 have been the two protocols that have secured wireless computer networks. Yet, now the challenges for the cybersecurity are getting more severe each day and there is the need for stronger protection means as well. While WPA2 will continue to be used in certified WiFi devices for the foreseeable future, the new and enhanced WPA3 security protection protocol will be launched in 2018 with a total of four new capabilities that will implement authentication, configuration, and encryption enhancements, affecting both corporate and personal wireless networks.
Two of the new security features will provide stronger protection and will defy cyberattacks even when users choose passwords which do not cover the usual recommendations for complexity. At the same time, the enhancements will make the security configuration of devices with limited or no display interface a lot easier. The third new feature that will be added to the WPA3 protocol will allow individualized data encryption to strengthen the privacy of users in open networks. Lastly, for industrial, government and defense networks which require higher levels of security, WPA3 will provide a 192-bit security suite which will be in line with the Commercial National Security Algorithm (CNSA) from the Committee on National Security.
The WiFi Alliance assures it will keep updating the WPA2 as well to deliver strong security protection in response to the ever-evolving cyber security landscape. The testing features of WPA2 will be enhanced, reducing thus the potential for vulnerabilities caused by any misconfiguration of networks. Centralized authentication services will also provide additional security for managed networks. Advanced WiFi applications will be backed by WPA2 with Protected Management Frames which are broadly implemented in the current generation of WiFi CERTIFIED devices.

The announcement of the new WPA3 comes right on time after the discovery of the Key Installation Attack (KRACK) in the WPA2 security protocol which has allowed hackers to access passwords and other sensitive data transmitted through WiFi networks. The distribution of WPA3 will begin this year already, and the new protocol will, most likely, be implemented by default in almost all new WiFi CERTIFIED devices. Since it is a software implementation, however, it should be possible also for existing devices to be upgraded to the latest security standard.

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