Secure your network with WPA3

14th February 2018

What is WPA3 you might ask? To put it simply, it is the new security standard that will be replacing WPA2. Its been a while since this protocol was updated so its long overdue!

So, why did it take so long?

The majority of threats to Wi-Fi have been due to human error. If someone attacked a network this was usually because the owners didn’t take the appropriate action to secure their network to protect the individuals connected to it. For example, not setting a password for the network. There were still hackers capable of hacking into private networks but this was very rare occurrences. Therefore, there was no high demand for a new security standard to be developed and released. But as we all know all good things come to an end eventually.

2017 was the year everything changed, hackers were becoming more intelligent and new vulnerabilities were being discovered.. The biggest casualty of this was WPA2, which suffered from a a vulnerability called the “Key Re-installation Attack” better known as ‘KRACK’.

The bad news for Wi-Fi users all over the world is that KRACK is something that affects every single access point that uses WPA/WPA2. This attack would allow any hacker to act as a middleman between a user and the Wi-Fi access point serving the connection.

Public Wi-Fi networks have always been insecure, since they offered no built-in encryption to devices connected to them. WPA/WPA2’s encryption has vulnerabilities that by gaining access to the network, a hacker could sniff out, intercept and decrypt Wi-Fi traffic passing between computers and access points.

Therefore WPA3 was developed and announced. There was too much panic surrounding the safety of current wireless networks so something had to be done!

How is WPA3 going to be different?

WPA3 will secure Wi-Fi connections significantly in several ways, the key points:

Protection against brute force dictionary attacks

Are you that person that has had the same ‘common’ password since you were first able to create a Facebook account? Yeah, you might want to change that.

Currently, the most common passwords would you believe are still:

  • 'password'
  • 'qwerty'
  • '12345678'

…the list goes on. Brute force dictionary attacks systematically submit EVERY SINGLE WORD in the dictionary as a password! I know what you are thinking, it must take a genius to know how to do that. I’m sorry to tell you… No. There are hundreds of tutorials on the internet that will give you a simple step by step guide to perform this on a network. Scary right? WPA3 should make that issue a thing of the past! WPA3 protocol will introduce a limit to how many times you can attempt to get the password right before you are blocked from making any more attempts.

So, have you thought of a new password yet?

Stronger encryption

WPA2 requires a 64-bit or 128-bit encryption key. But WPA3 uses a 192-bit encryption security suite for protecting Wi-Fi users’ networks with higher security requirements, such as government, industrial organisations and defence. Better encryption is better for us all!

Simplify Internet of Things (IoT) security

WPA3 protocol promises to ‘simplify, the process of configuring devices that have limited or no display interface’ There is a large growing number of devices that are enhanced by network connections, such as smart door locks, home personal assistants, lightbulbs, the list goes on. Since IoT devices rarely have an interface, it is difficult to configure them for optimal security. You can’t just type a password into a smart lightbulb, after all. This leads to vulnerable devices. Hackers could, for example, access your smart speakers in your lounge/bedroom and blare out whatever music they like.

There aren’t concrete details on how WPA3 overcomes this challenge. But researchers have successfully enhanced security on IoT devices by configuring them with a smartphone.

Open Wi-Fi

As we are all aware, public Wi-Fi connections are always less secure than private encrypted networks. This is partly due to a mixture of security limitations on open networks and the fact that coffee shop owners etc are not typically network security veterans. WPA3 promise to “strengthen user privacy networks through individualised data encryption.”

Researchers have speculated that WPA3 will include opportunistic wireless encryption. This enables connection on an open network without a shared and public pre-shared key (PSK). This is important because it is known that a PSK can give hackers easy access to the traffic encryption keys (TEKs), allowing them access to a data stream. In other words, This new protocol should help prevent hackers from spying on your web browsing whilst you are enjoying your coffee at Starbucks.

When can I start using WPA3

Before we can start to see the positive benefits of WPA3, the Wi-Fi Alliance has to certify hardware that uses the security protocol. So, there is no definitive date as to when people can start enjoying the enhanced security protections. But you should be expecting to see within the next year or so.

We can help

It is not confirmed yet whether we will be able to start using WPA3 capabilities by simply applying a firmware update to our devices, or if we are going to need to buy a new device. But what we can do for you is upgrade your systems security to ensure all WPA3 protocols can be enforced.

If you would like more infarction about the new WPA3 security protocol or would like a few security audit then please get in touch.

Article categories: Security

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