The WPA3 security protocol has arrived, with the Wi-Fi Alliance announcing that the next generation in Wi-Fi security will support two distinct modes of operation: WPA3-Personal and WPA3-Enterprise.
All WPA3 networks will use the latest security methods, but here’s how the alliance breaks down these two modes:
- WPA3-Personal provides a 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 against attempts by third parties to guess passwords.
- WPA3-Enterprise offers the equivalent of 192-bit cryptographic strength, providing more 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.
The Wi-Fi Alliance announced earlier this year that WPA3 would bring new capabilities for personal and enterprise Wi-Fi networks. WPA2 has been in use for more than a decade and it was time for a refresh.
“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, in a press release. “WPA3 continues the evolution of Wi-Fi security and maintains the brand promise of Wi-Fi Protected Access.”
As is its custom, the Wi-Fi Alliance offers a certification program and says that WPA2 continues to be mandatory for all Wi-Fi Certified devices. As market adoption of WPA3 grows, the new generation of Wi-Fi will become required for all Wi-Fi Certified devices. WPA3 maintains interoperability with WPA2 devices through a transitional mode of operation.
The alliance is also introducing the Wi-Fi Certified Easy Connect program, which reduces the complexity for onboarding Wi-Fi devices with limited or no display interfaces, such as devices coming to market for IoT. Wi-Fi Easy Connect enables users to add any device to a Wi-Fi network using another device with a more robust interface, such as a smartphone, by scanning a product quick response (QR) code.
“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 IDC Research Director Phil Solis in the release. “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.”
Qualcomm Technologies got a jump on things earlier this year when it announced that it would be applying WPA3 across its portfolio, including in chipsets this summer for mobile devices and on all Wi-Fi networking infrastructure products.
Several other Wi-Fi Alliance members also are incorporating WPA3 into their products. The Wi-Fi Alliance said it expects broad industry adoption of WPA3 by late 2019 in conjunction with the next generation of Wi-Fi based on the 802.11ax standard. Wi-Fi Alliance’s Product Finder includes the latest Wi-Fi Certified WPA3 devices and vendors likely will include WPA3 on their product packaging to let consumers know where it’s supported.