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Guide: Difference Between WPA3 and WPA2: Everything You Need To Know
It is and as we move towards a more connected lifestyle our reliance on Wi-Fi is also growing. Needless to say, security is a critical aspect here as we do a lot more than what we did on the internet a few years ago. From buses to airplanes and from lamps to PCs, WiFi is everywhere. With something as ubiquitous as this, having a top-notch security system is a necessity. That’s why the Wi-Fi Alliance just announced the new WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) security protocol, it promises to make Wi-Fi more secure than ever.
Sure, it will be more secure and better, but what is this new standard all about, what are the shortcomings, will you get it on your existing WiFi router? These are some of the most obvious questions anyone would have. Before we answer these, however, you need to know what WPA is and why security is important.
What is Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a security standard designed for devices with wireless Internet access, such as mobile appliances. WPA is the successor to the older Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) security protocol, which encrypts all data sent over a wireless connection for security.
As devices became more dependent on Wi-Fi, there was a need for a tighter security system. Therefore, the WPA system was implemented in 2003. WPA provided stronger user authentication and totally better security.
However, an even stronger security system called WPA2 was implemented in 2004. It offered a much stronger security algorithm and advanced encryption with message authentication and integrity validation. It basically defined how a router communicates with a device after an initial connection is established. From there, communication is basically encrypted to prevent you from snooping for that data.
To date, WPA2 has served as the security backbone for all Wi-Fi networks and will continue to do so in the future. However, WPA3 will be rolled out sometime this year and will have significant advantages over existing WPA2 systems.
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How is WPA3 better than WPA2?
WAP3 is better than WPA2 in several ways, but the Wi-Fi alliance has it all summed up up under 4 main points.back to menu ↑
1. Better protection, even for weak passwords
Wi-Fi systems today rely on a passphrase that authenticates your device and allows it to connect to a network using a router. This connection method is called a handshake between devices. However, with WPA2, a vulnerability called Krack was discovered last year that exploited this and allowed network access without the passphrase or Wi-Fi password.
With WPA3, a new and more robust system has been implemented that provides protection against such attacks. What’s better is that even if a user chooses a password or passphrase that doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, the system will automatically protect the connection from such attacks.
This certainly sounds great and many industry experts also agree that both the Wi-Fi router and the device connecting to that network must have the WPA3 standard in order to work.back to menu ↑
2. Easy connectivity with devices without a display
In recent years, there has been no shortage of smart devices such as Google Home, smart lights and thermostats (like the Ecobee Ecobee3 Lite) that connect to Wi-Fi and allow users to control them remotely. However, the problem occurs when the user needs to connect these devices to a Wi-Fi network. Needless to say, you do that with mobile apps is both time consuming and extremely frustrating.
With WPA3 comes a promise to make this process as seamless as possible. While the way this works isn’t clear yet, my best guess is that devices might come with one button which allows them to easily connect to a Wi-Fi network.back to menu ↑
3. Better individual protection on public networks
Public networks, such as those at airports and coffee shops, allow users to connect to the network without a password. These unencrypted networks can and have been used by many to attack innocent users for stealing their valuable data.
This long-term security solution for the public networks will finally come with WPA3. Even if a user is connected to an open or public network, the system will encrypt the connection so that no one can access the data being sent between the devices.back to menu ↑
4.119-bit government security suite
Not just for the public, but the new Wi-Fi security protocol will also have something that the government and security agencies have long wanted. WPA3 will have a much more complex encryption system that would aid in its use in critical applications such as national security issues.
While it may not be of immediate benefit to regular users, it will likely produce some benefits over time as well.back to menu ↑
How do I get WPA3 on my devices?
Looking at all those benefits, the first question that came to mind up in my head was that when i get WPA3 on my devices, they mine phone or my wifi router? Well, the Wi-Fi Alliance has set strict guidelines on how manufacturers can get their products certified for the new standard.
However, the manufacturers may not be interested in certifying old devices to the new standard, especially since WPA2 will continue to function with it.
Even getting a new WPA3 certified Wi-Fi router wouldn’t solve this problem as the devices connected to it must also be certified with this new protocol.
Now that the new standard has been announced, manufacturers are moving towards it soon. In the future, we can expect more and more devices that support WPA3, but we don’t expect this to happen any time soon.
Also read: GT explains: difference between WEP, WPA and WPA2 and which one is the most secureback to menu ↑
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