The announcement of WPA3 means that some wi-fi networks should start to be more secure. Source: Shutterstock

WPA3’s announcement ends wide-open wi-fi

YOU may or may not know it, but the method by which you are connected to the Internet (if you’re connected wirelessly) is inherently insecure. In fact, anyone who knows what they’re doing could most probably get access to your wi-fi network in around ten minutes.

There exist a host of tools available for white hat cybersecurity testers, which with a little application can easily be used for ill. And this situation emanates from a technology used commonly to bridge the airwaves from computer or phone to the wireless access point on the wall: WPA2.

WPA2 is an old technology and has been around for close on 15 years, and traffic on WPA2 networks is susceptible. Therefore it’s fairly easy to hack or KRACK into. The process is as follows:

  • Set up wi-fi hardware to listen in to a network
  • Listen to all the packets going to and from the wi-fi point on the network
  • Wait for someone to connect a device to said network
  • Read the exchange of password (or key) between connecting machine and wi-fi access point
  • Use the key to connect to private network

However, the body in charge of wi-fi protocols has finally released the next generation of wireless security protocol, WPA3.

WPA3 will be available later this year for both personal and enterprise wi-fi networks and offers much-improved security and privacy for users and their networks.

Features are said to include:

  • Individualized data movements more strongly encrypted
  • Protection against so-called brute force password attacks, where hackers use lists of well-known passwords in freely-available text files to repeatedly try to log into a wi-fi network
  • Simple yet relatively secure measures for simple devices such as IoT devices
  • Availability of 192-bit security for organizations such as government agencies who need higher levels of security than default

However, until new hardware can be certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance to be WPA3-compliant, it won’t in all likelihood reach the market. Devices are therefore expected to start to arrive in the next few months, rather than immediately.

“Security is a foundation of Wi-Fi Alliance certification programs, and we are excited to introduce new features to the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED family of security solutions,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED designation means Wi-Fi devices meet the highest standards for interoperability and security protections.”

“Wi-Fi security technologies may live for decades, so it’s important they are continually updated to ensure they meet the needs of the Wi-Fi industry,” said Joe Hoffman, SAR Insight & Consulting. “Wi-Fi is evolving to maintain its high-level of security as industry demands increase.”