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Wi-Fi Security Finally Gets Its First Major Upgrade in 14 Years

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Wi-Fi Security Finally Gets Its First Major Upgrade in 14 Years


We are living in a world in which your kitchen and everyday home appliances can connect to the internet. Which means probably the Wi-Fi devices that provide that access should be using a security protocol that is less than 14 years old.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has launched WPA3, a new standard for wireless internet that better encrypts data, making it harder for third parties to intercept that information. Password sign-ins will also offer an extra layer of protection.


Beyond that, a program announced in conjunction with WPA3 will make it easier to hook up smart home devices to your Wi-Fi network. Easy Connect will let you use your phone to set up connections that have no display or a minuscule one.

The new standard won’t automatically appear on current devices, though. You’ll have to install patches as they’re offered by your manufacturer and some older devices may not receive updates.
If you’ve got an older Wi-Fi device, don’t worry, the current standard (WPA2) isn’t going away in the short term. The two protocols are interoperable, though WPA3 will become required over time, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The biggest change from WPA2 to WPA3 fixes a huge security flaw that plagued the old system from the start. If someone wanted to access your Wi-Fi device, under WPA2, they had unlimited, unhindered chances to guess your Wi-Fi password. This is an issue even the most basic websites fought head-on years ago, via tech like reCAPTCHA. 

For hackers who deploy brute force attacks — a method that basically scans through the dictionary, automatically guessing different words and combinations until it cracks your password — this 14-year vulnerability was a gift.

Now hackers will have to work much harder to break into your Wi-Fi network. Ostensibly, WPA3 solves this security issue by allowing a single password attempt. If the first try at the password is incorrect, you’ll need to physically interact with the Wi-Fi device.

Let’s say a hacker does gain access to your Wi-Fi device. Under WPA2, the unauthorized user had the ability to decrypt any traffic that flowed through, even before they had access to your network.

Thanks to WPA3’s support of forward secrecy, this flaw is also rendered obsolete. All traffic from before the breach will remain encrypted to that unauthorized user.

And speaking of the Internet of Things — your fridges and toasters that are just as logged-on as you are — WPA3 brings along with it a feature called Wi-Fi Easy Connect. 

This will make it easier to give appliances that may not have an easy-to-use interface or even a screen access to the internet. 

With the scan of two QR codes, your vacuum could easily connect to your WPA3-enabled router.




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