Qualcomm to incorporate WPA3 into Wi-Fi portfolio

wi-fi cafe (pixabay)
In January, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the release of WPA3 with security improvements over WPA2. (Pixabay)

Qualcomm Technologies is getting a jump on things as it announced this week that it will be applying the industry’s newest Wi-Fi security protections across its portfolio.

The company said it will support the Wi-Fi Alliance’s third-generation security suite, Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3), in chipsets this summer for mobile devices and on all Wi-Fi networking infrastructure products. Specifically, the recently launched 2x2 802.11ax-ready solution for client devices, the WCN3998, and the IPQ807x AP platform will support WPA3.

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced WPA3 at CES this year, saying four new capabilities for personal and enterprise Wi-Fi networks will emerge in 2018 as part of a Wi-Fi Certified WPA3 program. That program hasn’t kicked off yet, but Qualcomm is letting the world know that it will be supporting WPA3.

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Thus far, the industry has been relying on existing protocols, WPA and WPA2, but one of the known weaknesses of WPA2 revolves around passwords, according to Andy Davidson, senior director of engineering at Qualcomm. New WPA3 features make it such that users are protected even when they choose passwords that are not complex or random enough.

WPA3 also has Opportunistic Wireless Encryption, which provides encryption when a user connects to an open hotspot, such as happens in a coffee shop where the password is displayed on a chalkboard for all to see, including hackers.

Another piece of WPA3 has to do with the device provisioning protocol, which makes it easier for on- and off-boarding any type of device on a Wi-Fi network. It also has enhanced cryptography to ensure that networking technology used in government, medical and financial networks provides strong security protections.

WPA2 came out in 2004 and it lasted a long time, but now’s a good time for an update, according to Davidson. The development of the new protocols has been going on for a while now and because the industry is moving to 802.11ax, it makes sense to take advantage of the refresh cycle to get the latest in security enhancements, he told FierceWirelessTech.

Last year, the "KRACK" (Key Reinstallation Attack) vulnerability was able to bypass the WPA2 protocol and put Wi-Fi users at risk, allowing potential hackers to access unencrypted network traffic and possibly steal sensitive information. Qualcomm says that by aggressively closing known security holes and implementing WPA3 across its product portfolio, it's helping to make sure its products support the best security the industry has to offer.