Wi-Fi Alliance issues WPA3 standard to improve wireless security

The Wi-Fi Alliance this week issued the Wi-Fi Certified WPA3 protocol designed to make it simpler for enterprises and consumers to secure their wireless networks and introduced a new program called Wi-Fi Certified Easy Connect that reduces the complexity of adding a new device to an existing network while maintaining high-security standards.

The WPA3 standard will replace WPA2, which was introduced in 2004 ago, and is expected to simplify Wi-Fi security, enable more resilient authentication and deliver increased cryptographic strength for highly sensitive data markets, the Alliance said. It is expected to become the industry standard and like its predecessor will become mandatory for all Wi-Fi Certified devices.

The standard has two modes, WPA3-Enterprise and WPA3-Personal.

WPA3-Enterprise will offer the equivalent of 192-bit cryptographic strength and provide additional protections for networks transmitting sensitive data, such as government or finance. WPA3-Personal will feature more resilient, password-based authentication even when users choose passwords that fall short of typical complexity recommendations and leverage Simultaneous Authentication of Equals, a secure key establishment protocol between devices, to provide stronger protections for users against password guessing attempts by third parties.

“It remains to be seen when WPA3-enabled products will enter the market, although it is very likely to take quite some time before they reach broad implementation. For the time being, WPA3 is optional for newly-manufactured devices and it retains interoperability with WPA2 devices through a transitional mode of operation, said the Wi-Fi Alliance,” said ESET's Tomáš Foltýn in a blog post.

Qualcomm has announced it will support WPA3 across its entire portfolio as soon as this summer, the Wi-Fi Alliance told SC Media and support for the new protocol has been given by HP, Intel, Broadcom, Cisco and several other firms.

The new Easy Connect program will help those adding IoT devices to a network that lack a display interface. Instead, the new device will connect through a more robust tool, like a smartphone by scanning the product's QR code. This will eliminate the need for an end user to go into the back end of a device to make it secure.

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