Two trends in internet connectivity are about to significantly improve wireless communications and they have to do with faster speeds and better security in 2019. One is the upcoming 5G that mobile carriers have already begun rolling out and the other is Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of wireless network technology.
While Wi-Fi 6 does offer some speed improvements, the biggest benefits are going to be from WPA3, the Wi-Fi security protocol and how it handles things like user authentication and maintains resiliency of mission critical networks.
WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access, and it’s the security standard used by routers and other devices that are equipped with wireless connections.
FutureRange provides a number of managed IT services for clients in Ireland, and cybersecurity services is one of them. Through our partnership with DMZIT, we offer things like information systems audits, AI for cybersecurity, and insider threat prevention.
It’s been about 5 years since the current Wi-Fi version, 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) with WPA2 was released in 2014, so wireless protocols are due for an upgrade. We’ll tell you what’s coming in Wi-Fi 6 later this year.
Security Enhancements You’ll See in Wi-Fi 6 by the End of 2019
The security protocols used by wireless routers and devices are often all that’s standing between us and a hacker. Despite warnings about public Wi-Fi, many users still log in to sensitive accounts while on a public connection.
58% of users on public Wi-Fi log in to their emails and 22% access online banking or financial sites.
One event that sent cybersecurity experts into overdrive about two years ago was a discovered weakness in the security protocol WPA2 which made it vulnerable to hackers.
WPA3, which is expected to be released the second half of 2019, promises to greatly beef up security and even fix the issue with being virtually spied on when connected to public Wi-Fi. Here is an overview of the security enhancements you can expect.
Better Encryption Management
To secure a vulnerability found in WPA2, the new version uses Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), which improves the key management process used for encryption. The keys will now be session-based, meaning hackers can no longer capture wireless traffic and work offline to hack the shared password. Attacks would also be limited to a single session.
Protection for Weak Passwords
When you sign into a public Wi-Fi, such as one at an airport or hotel, there is often one single password they give out for everyone to login, which makes the password very insecure. Wi-Fi 6 is going to use what’s called Wi-Fi Certified Enhanced Open™ which changes the way authentication is handled between the access point and client. This will allow you to securely surf the web on a public Wi-Fi without worrying about another user on that same connection being able to spy on your activities.
Optional 192-bit Encryption
For organizations dealing with sensitive data that need the utmost in wireless security, WPA3 will offer the option for 192-bit encryption. Using this security mode sets a consistent baseline of security within the network using a specific combination of cryptographic tools.
Easy Connect™ for “Headless Devices”
There are more “headless devices” (devices without a screen) being connected to wireless routers than ever before. From voice activated assistants (like Google Home) to smart thermostats, each connection can leave a network vulnerable. The Easy Connect technology will replace Wireless Protection Setup (WPS) to allow these devices to be more securely configured for a network and offer simple and standardized provisioning.
WPA3 Personal & Enterprise
WPA3 will offer both personal and enterprise options offering additional security for those users that need it.
WPA3-Personal brings better protections to individual users, which includes better password authentication, even when the user has a weak password. With the greatly enhanced security, the ease of use for connecting to Wi-Fi will remain the same.
WPA3-Enterprise for governments, financial institutions, and enterprise corporations will provide more robust security measures and a consistent application of security protocols across the entire network.
Other Non-Security Benefits
Other benefits you’re going to see with Wi-Fi 6 that aren’t directly related to security include:
- Ability for more data to be transferred at one time
- Ability to handle a larger number of devices on one network
- Transmit beamforming that enables faster data rates
- Target wake time (TWT) to improve battery life of Wi-Fi connected devices
- Increased throughput for bandwidth-intensive use cases
- Lower latency in high demand environments
Let FutureRange Help You Convert to Wi-Fi 6
Get a head start on switching over to the more secure Wi-Fi 6 and WPA3 protocol. FutureRange can let you know as soon as the technology is released and help you update your network to the new version.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation at +353 1 2960 560 or reach out online.