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Jun 29 2018

Wi-Fi Alliance Introduces WPA3™

Wireless networks have long been a popular target for criminal hackers of all skill and sophistication levels, especially if they still use the outdated WEP and WPA security protocols. Last fall, researchers found that even the more mature WPA2 was susceptible to offline key reinstallation (KRACK) attacks. Consequently, the Wi-Fi Alliance – the industry association that defines and maintains standards for wireless networking – is now pushing for the implementation of new protective features for enterprise and personal installations.

To this end, the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) first introduced the new WPA3™ standard at the CES in January this year. The new protocol is supposed to add new features, enable more robust authentication, and increase cryptographic protection of especially sensitive databases. WPA3 uses two distinct modes of operation:

  • WPA3-Enterprise offers 192-bit cryptographic strength, providing additional protections for networks transmitting sensitive data, for instance those of government agencies or financial service providers. The suite ensures that a consistent combination of cryptographic tools is deployed across WPA3 networks.
  • WPA3-Personal ensures that home networks enforce more resilient password authentication even when users choose passwords that fall short of typical complexity recommendations and leverages Simultaneous Authentication of Equals, a secure key establishment protocol between devices, to provide stronger protections for users against password guessing attempts by third parties.

Earlier this week, the WFA started pushing for the general adoption of WPA3 among providers of wireless technology, hoping the process could be finished before the year ends. That would mean that by November or December, all newly established WPA3 network setups only rely on the latest security methods, block the WPE and WPA protocols and use so-called Protected Management Frames to maintain resiliency of mission critical networks. Nevertheless, there will be some kind of backwards compatibility with WPA2, as WPA3 can be set up to work in a transitional mode that allows for communication between both protocols.

For more information, please visit the WFA home page.


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