Now might not be the best time to buy a wireless router. The Wi-Fi Alliance, a standards body with Broadcom, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and several other tech titans serving as members, announced its next-generation wireless security protocol, Wi-fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3)
The updated standard can't arrive fast enough. Just last fall, it was discovered that a major vulnerability in WPA2 and WPA dubbed KRACK—Key Reinstallation Attack—could allow attackers to snoop on what is supposed to be encrypted traffic exchanged between computers and wireless access points. Obviously that's not good.
WPA3 will protect against that exploit, along with others. The first draft outlines four new features for both personal and enterprise wi-fi networks. The wi-fi Alliance didn't go into great detail, but did say two of the features will offer strong protection even when users choose weak passwords.
As explained to ZDNet by Mathy Vanhoef, a computer security academic, this is a newer kind of handshake between devices and networks. Essentially it will protect against brute-force dictionary attacks by blocking authentication after a set number of failed login attempts.
The two other features both offer better encryption. One is "individualized data encryption" in open networks, such as those found in public places, ensuring that data between your device and the router can't be easily snooped. And the other is a stronger 192-bit security suite, which the Wi-Fi Alliance says is aligned with the Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite from the Committee on National Security Systems.
"Security is a foundation of Wi-Fi Alliance certification programs, and we are excited to introduce new features to the Wi-fi Certified family of security solutions," said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. "The Wi-fi Certified designation means wi-fi devices meet the highest standards for interoperability and security protections.”
Retail devices supporting WPA3 are expected to arrive sometime this year, likely within the new few months.