January 11, 2018 By Mark Samuels 2 min read

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced that it will launch Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA3) later this year. This updated version of the globally used wireless security protocol aims to boost network defenses. WPA3 will replace WPA2, the current network security protocol that has been in use for over a decade, according to the official press release.

In the intervening period, the Wi-Fi Alliance will enhance WPA2 to ensure that it provides strong security protection. IT decision-makers should consider the imminent introduction of WPA3 as an important development in an evolving security landscape.

Enhancing the Current Standard

Wi-Fi Protected Access is used by billions of wireless devices around the globe, including smartphones, tablets and connected devices associated with the Internet of Things (IoT). The Wi-Fi Alliance has certified more than 35,000 Wi-Fi products since the turn of the millennium.

The association, which includes some of the technology industry’s most powerful companies, announced it will use the widespread adoption of WPA2 as a platform to deliver new security configurations. Most of these capabilities will emerge later this year during the introduction of WPA3.

For now, WPA2 will still be deployed in Wi-Fi devices — with some improvements to help guarantee strong security protection for users. The industry body claimed that “testing enhancements will also reduce the potential for vulnerabilities due to network misconfiguration and further safeguard managed networks with centralized authentication services,” according to the press release.

Wi-Fi Protected Access Strengthens Security

The new WPA3 protocol will be available for consumer and business wireless devices later this year. Because the Wi-Fi Protected Alliance must certify hardware before it can use the WPA3 protocol, it could take several months before companies can support the new security protocol.

While full specifications of the WPA3 program are not yet available, the Wi-Fi Alliance believes the updated standard will:

  • Strengthen the privacy of users in open networks via individualized data encryption.
  • Provide protection and prevent cybercriminals from undertaking multiple login attempts via commonly used passwords.
  • Simplify security configuration for technology that does not include a display, such as IoT devices.
  • Use 192-bit security, aligned with the Commercial National Security Algorithm, to protect critical networks.

Beware of Network Intrusion

IT decision-makers should welcome the enhancements to WPA2 and the emergence of WPA3 later this year. Security experts have long warned of the potential impact of network intrusion at the corporate level, and vulnerabilities in WPA2 left the door open for cybercriminals to take advantage of lax Wi-Fi security.

To enhance security, security leaders must use a range of technologies, including tools for the detection, investigation and remediation phases of breaches. Increased attention on the network will be crucial in the age of connectivity, especially as the number of connected devices increases.

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