Last year, there were many cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and one of them was a flaw in the WPA2 WIFI protocol. This vulnerability impacted every device that relies on the protocol especially WIFI routers. Using an exploit when in range, an attacker could intercept sensitive data from the victims. The flaw was dubbed as KRACK as the exploit requires an attacker to use a Key Reinstallation Attack. Although patches were rolled, this year will put an end to the flaw and even make public WIFI much safer.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the WIFI Alliance – an organization responsible for setting standards for WIFI and certifying WIFI based products, unveiled its latest WIFI protocol known as the WPA3. WPA3 will be implemented later this year as the successor of the WPA2 technology. The change is expected to be progressive and slow as they cannot recall all WIFI based products and the process relies on manufacturers.
WPA3 mainly brings more safety and security improvements that are designed to make WIFI more reliable. That’s, the new changes will bar attackers from getting sensitive info from interconnected networks such as in the Internet of Things and other gadgets. For instance, a secure WIFI network eliminates loopholes in which hackers gain access to information by use of intercepting tools such as Wire shack. Although network admins may have a hard time, the new protocol will make sure hackers don’t get info about the activities you do when you are online using public WIFI. At the moment, the WIFI alliance aims to enable secure WIFI connections without complications of securing your network. According to Kevin Robinson, the Wi-Fi Alliance’s vice president of marketing “It’s a lot about simplification and the user not needing to think about security under the hood.”
Among the security upgrades, WPA3 will ensure that all data on public WIFI is encrypted. The current WPA2 doesn’t do this, and this is a loophole which hackers use to steal info from these networks. WPA2 makes snooping easy since anyone with a designated network tool can ‘listen’ and intercept sensitive data from public WIFI hotspots in hotels, shops, airports and practically anyplace with public WIFI. The WPA3 will provide a secure channel and hence no more spying. It will eliminate brute force attacks which many attackers use to guess passwords until they find a correct one. Like smartphones, WPA3 will block anyone who tries to guess the password and fails after the set attempts are reached. Although WPA3 will be secure, it still won’t give you all the protection you may need on a public WIFI. The secure channel will prevent mass surveillance, but it isn’t bulletproof, hackers can still get your info by other dedicated attacks.
WPA3 will also bring major changes that will better the security of IoT devices that lack displays. Unlike other devices which can be configured, the no-display devices such as smart bulbs lack adequate security due to the fewer adjustable settings they offer. As for now, WPA3 will require you to use your computing devices such as a smartphone as an unofficial interface to these IoT devices. Via a new dashboard, you will be able to set passwords and hence removing the openness in which attackers use to access, control and even steal data from other interconnected devices.
Not only security enhancements, but the WIFI alliance will also deliver a suite of features; new capabilities for enterprise and personal WIFI network as part of their 2018 Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WPA3™. These new features aim to simplify security configuration for users and service providers as well as enhancing Wi-Fi network security protections.
Two of the features are for delivering robust protections even when users make passwords that don’t meet the required complexity recommendations. Additionally, they will simplify the configuration process for devices with a limited interface such as IoT. The other feature strengthens user’s privacy in open and public networks through individualized/channeled data encryption. The final feature is a 192-bit security suite that is aligned with the Commercial National Security Algorithm (CNSA) Suite. These features will further protection by implementing higher security requirements for Wi-Fi networks.
As said earlier, the shift from WPA2 to WPA3 will be slow as the WIFI Alliance only sets standards, and it will be entirely the work of manufacturers to include it in their devices. As Robinson said, the new standards won’t arrive overnight. It will take months and even years for some manufacturers to support them.