Hello guys, Today we’re going to be talking about something that I think everyone can get excited about because it literally is something that one uses, that is WiFi! More specifically, there is a new WiFi security protocol called WPA3 coming out to supersede WPA2 which most of us use now. Now you might be thinking “Oh! That’s boring! How could that be exciting..!” But it actually is very interesting and has some big big improvements over what we use now… There are some issues with WPA2 about which we will be talking and then we can discuss Why WPA3 is very relevant and more convenient for you.
What is WPA?
So, first of all, if you’re not familiar with WPA and what all that means, WPA(WiFi Protected Access) is just a security protocol for WiFi. These are just to secure the connection between your computer and your WiFi router. And the idea is you don’t want people spying on what you’re doing so you have a passcode and by using that passcode it encrypts the connection.
At first, we had WEP(Wired Equivalent Privacy) in 1990’s which used 64-bit or 128-bit key size as per the requirement… The main issue we faced in WEP was the 1st byte of the output keystreams were “strongly Non-Random”. So if you just gather enough packets, you could easily discover the entire WEP key..! And once you have the key, you can see all of the data going across the network and of course if you want to send the data on to the network, you’re now able to do that as well!
Then in 2003, we got successor of WEP which is WPA(WiFi Protected Access). This was a middleman, something that we implemented very quickly. It was not completely standardized at that time. But it was the way of encrypting data in the same hardware we were using with WEP. In WPA, every packet got a unique encryption key. So even if somehow you get the key, you will only be able to decrypt that particular packet.
But it was just a short-term workaround… We needed something that was standardized and that’s where we came up with WPA2. WPA2 used a cipher called AES that is Advanced Encryption Standard. Unfortunately, it was the cipher that required a lot more CPU cycles… So we had to upgrade mini cases from our old hardware to a brand new Access Point(AP). It also used Counter Mode Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol which we happily call CCMP which is a much more secure protocol to use for authenticating and making sure that the data within the packet is exactly where it came from.
Hole 196 in WPA2:
“Hole 196” is the name of WPA2 vulnerability. The vulnerability is, in fact, buried on the last line on page 196 of the 1232-page IEEE 802.11 Standard. And that’s why it was named as “Hole 196.”
“Hole 196” vulnerability could lead to a potentially fatal insider attack, where a licensed person or an authorized person can bypass the WPA2 private key encryption and authentication to scan the authorized devices for vulnerabilities, install malware on these and steal personal or confidential data from the devices.
What’s New in WPA3?
I’m sure at this point you’re wondering what the actual differences are with the WPA3 and there are 4 main improvements that the WiFi Alliance has announced. Although we won’t be able to use it right away, it is a huge step for wireless security and great news for laptop and smartphone users everywhere.
1. Brute Force Protection:
Even if someone has a bad password, it’s going to prevent Brute Force attacks by actually limiting how often you can guess the password. So even if a hacker tries to Brute Force it or uses the dictionary attack, it’s going to be so slow where it probably wouldn’t even be worth it. But of course! You still want to use a relatively strong password… Because you can never be too secure.
2. Individualized Encryption:
So.. what this means is that even if you’re connecting without a password, if you’re using a public WiFi hotspot; your connection will still be encrypted! Which solves so many problems because we’ve been talking in the past about how if you’re even at like a hotel or if you’re at Starbucks or something using the WiFi, you would have to use something like VPN to encrypt all your traffic through a tunnel before you use the WiFi hotspot. Because obviously again, you do not want anyone listening in on that.
Another bad thing, even if you do use a secure password everyone else is using that same password!! So if one person knows the password, they can decrypt everyone else’s connection…! That means you’re not really any more protected.
So presumably the Individualized Encryption means that every single person is going to have their own encryption key so you’re going to be secure no matter what.
3. Stronger Encryption:
It will use a 192-bit encryption key length which is a lot stronger than the current one which is a 128-bit key which is still yet to be cracked! But again I guess they’re figuring future proof..!
4. Easier WiFi device connection:
It makes a lot easier for devices with very small screens or no screen at all to connect your WiFi hotspot! So imagine a smart device at home, you want to connect it to your WiFi network… well, obviously that might not have a screen on it and especially not the keyboard for you so you can type the password into! Right now, with WPA2, maybe that device creates a WiFi hotspot, then you use your phone to connect to that smart device’s WiFi hotspot and then type in the password and then disconnect from that and then it connects to the WiFi hotspot and use the password you just typed in… It’s a mess right?! -_-
Well, With WPA3’s new “WiFi Easy Connect” you just need to scan some code in your phone to connect the device!!
So obviously I would say that all of these new features are awesome and there might be small ones they add in that they haven’t really talked about… those are the main 4.
When’ll We Be Able to Use WPA3?
You might be wondering when are we going to use this awesome new security… Well, it’s actually out right now. The standard is out and finalized but the first devices that use it might take a while… probably at the end of next year, I’m sure we’ll start to get phones that will actually use it. Though it will be backward compatible, so if you’re running a router that uses WPA3, then it will be able to use the same WPA2 security if that’s all that a phone would support but it’ll still be able to do WPA3 if there are devices that you use that have it.
Even with all of these, it’s not like WPA2 is going to be disappearing anytime soon! First of all because obviously it is going to take a while for WPA3 to be implemented in new devices and there are probably a lot of devices which might never be updated!! So, they would have to still be supported in long run as well… So don’t worry if you’re not going to upgrade your devices, you’ll still be able to use WPA2. It’s not like you’re insecure! But, still good to keep an eye on any device that has WPA3, that could be an awesome feature…!