It’s about time.
In the 21st century, any set of tech standards that hasn’t been upgraded in 14 years is totally unacceptable. Can you imagine how frustrating such stagnation would be if, say, we were stuck today with the mobile phones of 2004?
So it’s welcome news, then, that the Wi-Fi Alliance — the self-governing association that includes Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, and Intel — finally announced the arrival of a new generation of Wi-Fi Protected Access encryption protocol, called WPA3.
It’s probably not a coincidence that WPA3 has been rolled out within months of the Krack attack on the WPA2 security protocol, which you’re probably using right now. It surely startled the industry out of its lethargy.
These protocols are designed to moderate your device’s connection to a closed Wi-Fi network using a password. WPA2 and WPA3 define the procedure a router and Wi-Fi client device use to perform the handshake that allows them to securely connect and communicate.
Here are the four issues that WPA3 will address and strengthen:
Protection against brute-force attacks
These are often called dictionary attacks because they prey on predictable passwords such as abc123 or codified personal data hackers may acquire by randomly scraping a social media platform such as Facebook.
There’s an abundance of brute force automation software out there, and its utilized by criminals and marketers alike.
Once you get hacked, if you’ve used the same predictable password for all your accounts, you’re then odds-on have uninvited company.
Seriously, new protocols or not, if you’re extensively active online, it’s probably time for you to consider an advanced master password system.
WPA3 will deploy a new form of logarithm cryptography to do what most users probably won’t — until it’s too late, no doubt — via a form of double-down authentication designed to be dictionary and brute force resistant.
Simplify connections to Internet of Things devices
This isn’t to say you’ll need to be better protected from your refrigerator or vacuum robot attacking you, but with IOT growing exponentially in everyday life, there’s a practical demand for interfacing with the machines more efficiently.
There’s hardly a household appliance that can’t be connected online these days, and with most of them having small or no screens, doing so is usually a hassle. WPA3 will preclude this by enabling apps and/or equipment such as routers to securely program them remotely and without intrusion.
This should prevent a hacker from ordering your Alexa to play AC/DC’s Highway to Hell when the grandparents are visiting.
Stronger overall encryption
WPA2 utilizes a 64-bit or 128-bit encryption key. WPA3 is stronger, with a 192-bit encryption as well as an alignment with the Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite.
This promises consumers the stronger sort of security that’s currently used to protect governments and corporations.
A more secure public Wi-Fi
Some claim that WPA3 will make the need for Virtual Public Networks (VPNs) obsolete.
This will be accomplished via individualized data encryption.
When you connect to an open Wi-Fi network, the data between your device and the Wi-Fi access point will be encrypted, even though you didn’t enter a passphrase at the time of connection. This will make public, open Wi-Fi networks much more private.
It will literally be impossible for hackers to gain access without actually cracking the encryption.
That’ll be awesome, as soon as every coffee shop, library, restaurant, tavern, Main Street storefront, and office building acquires the hardware to support this technology. Until then, use the VPN.
Manufacturers will be rolling out WPA3 hardware as soon as practically possible throughout 2018, with a goal of making it readily available to consumers by the end of the year.
WPA2 will continue to be supported and will be for a long time to come, as it’s so widespread. Ditto for WPA devices, which by now are hopelessly obsolete but still out there.
Officially, all manufacturers of WPA3 equipment must apply for and be granted certification by the WiFi Alliance before rolling it out to the public. That process is underway.
The security issues WPA3 resolves should have been addressed well before now, but at long last, the industry’s bought into the concept that there’s no time like the present.