The Wi-Fi Alliance has introduced Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WPA3, the next generation of Wi-Fi security, bringing new capabilities to enhance Wi-Fi protections in personal and enterprise networks.
Building on the widespread adoption of WPA2 over more than a decade, WPA3 adds new features to simplify Wi-Fi security, enable more robust authentication, and deliver increased cryptographic strength for highly sensitive data markets. As the Wi-Fi industry transitions to WPA3 security, WPA2 devices will continue to interoperate and provide recognised security.
WPA3 security continues to support the market through two distinct modes of operation: WPA3-Personal and WPA3-Enterprise. All WPA3 networks use the latest security methods, disallow outdated legacy protocols, and require use of Protected Management Frames (PMF) to maintain resiliency of mission critical networks.
Key capabilities of WPA3 include:
- WPA3-Personal: more resilient, password-based authentication even when users choose passwords that fall short of typical complexity recommendations. WPA3 leverages Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), a secure key establishment protocol between devices, to provide stronger protections for users against password guessing attempts by third parties.
- WPA3-Enterprise: offers the equivalent of 192-bit cryptographic strength, providing additional protections for networks transmitting sensitive data, such as government or finance. The 192-bit security suite ensures a consistent combination of cryptographic tools are deployed across WPA3 networks.
Wi-Fi Alliance introduced enhancements and new features earlier this year for Wi-Fi Protected Access, the essential family of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED security technologies, to ensure WPA2 maintains strong security protections as the wireless landscape evolves.
WPA2 continues to be mandatory for all Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices. As market adoption of WPA3 grows, the new generation of Wi-Fi security will become required for all Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices. WPA3 maintains interoperability with WPA2 devices through a transitional mode of operation, and Wi-Fi users can remain confident they are protected when connected to secured Wi-Fi CERTIFIED networks.
“WPA3 takes the lead in providing the industry’s strongest protections in the ever-changing security landscape,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance. “WPA3 continues the evolution of Wi-Fi security and maintains the brand promise of Wi-Fi Protected Access.”
Wi-Fi Alliance is also introducing Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Easy Connect, a new programme that reduces the complexity of onboarding Wi-Fi devices with limited or no display interface – such as devices coming to market for Internet of Things (IoT) – while still maintaining high security standards.
Wi-Fi Easy Connect enables users to securely add any device to a Wi-Fi network using another device with a more robust interface, such as a smartphone, by simply scanning a product quick response (QR) code. Wi-Fi Easy Connect and WPA3 represent the latest evolution in Wi-Fi Alliance programs to ensure users receive a positive experience while remaining securely connected as the security landscape evolves.
“The evolution of Wi-Fi to stay ahead of market needs has been critical to it remaining one of wireless technology’s greatest success stories,” said Phil Solis, research director for IDC. “Wi-Fi Alliance has been instrumental in Wi-Fi’s evolution, and diligent about delivering Wi-Fi CERTIFIED programs so users and a variety of markets can rely on the convenience of Wi-Fi connectivity and security to meet their needs.”
Wi-Fi Alliance recently introduced Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Enhanced Open, a certification program that delivers new benefits for users in open Wi-Fi networks. In scenarios where user authentication is not desired or distribution of credentials is impractical – such as local coffee shops or guest networks with a web portal in airports, hotels, and sports arenas – Wi-Fi Enhanced Open now delivers improved data protections while maintaining the convenience and ease-of-use of open networks.
Commenting on this news, Chris Schmidt senior manager, research at Synopsys’ Software Integrity Group, said: “Wi-Fi authentication has come a long way since the early days of wireless networking. Professionals have made it clear that they understand the need for things like strong authentication and authorisation controls for network clients, built-in reauthentication, and identity proofing through the design of the new WPA3 protocol.
“However, to put the problem simply, there are just too many wireless clients today that will require updates to support the new protocol, and a significant percentage of those devices may never be able to support the new standard. While the move to WPA3 is good and illustrates a secure design, it will be a while before the effects of the new, more secure wireless authentication protocol are truly felt.”
Vijay Nagarajan, senior director of marketing for Wireless Communications and Connectivity division at Broadcom said, “As Wi-Fi evolves to deliver more value in an ever expanding array of use cases, it’s important that security evolves too. WPA3’s new features, such as improved password based authentication and stronger encryption, will further simplify and strengthen how consumers and businesses connect to the Internet every day.”
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