After well over a decade, internet security is getting its biggest upgrade ever with WPA3. The new security protocol was announced by Wi-Fi Alliance, the governing body for Wi-Fi standards, on Tuesday.
The organisation has just started certifying devices, which means it will take at least a year for them to be developed and enter the market. The Alliance expects mass adoption by 2019 or 2020, in line with the release of next generation of Wi-Fi - the 802.11ax.
The launch of 802.11ax is expected to boost adoption of WPA3, and only once both are out in the market will the Alliance make them mandatory standards for a device to be considered 'Wi-Fi Certified'.
WPA3 comes with several security upgrades to make it more reliable and safer for users. To begin with, WPA3 will prevent offline password-guessing. This form of attack allowed hackers to download WI-Fi data and then try to guess the password offline. It allows for repeated guessing till the correct password is entered. With the update, however, this will no longer be possible.
Hackers will not be able to make only one offline guess, any more would require them to be connected to the network, meaning they would have to be physically present near the router for the virtual attack to occur.
Another update dubbed 'Forward Secrecy', will limit what data hackers have access to once they hack a network. With this feature, hackers will only be able to access new information currently flowing over the network, older data will not be accessible.
The Alliance has also announced a new feature called Easy Connect, aimed at Internet of Things (IoT) devices. With this feature, a user will be able to connect their IoT device to their Wi-Fi network simply by scanning a QR code on their phone, the mobile will then send the Wi-Fi credentials to the device.
Easy Connect is expected to ease the process of connecting devices without a touchscreen, which is now complex and slow.
The rollout of WPA 3 won't be immediate. The Alliance will not make it mandatory as of now, which offers manufacturers time till 2019 to adopt WPA3 and 802.11ax.
Once they do begin rolling out, users will have to buy compatible routers and devices, if their old devices aren't updated by the makers. Luckily, WPA3 devices will still be able to connect to WPA2 networks, ensuring your gadgets won't become useless immediately after you purchase a new WPA3-compatible router.
Qualcomm has already announced support for WPA3 and has begun manufacturing a chip for smartphones and tablets for both WPA3 and 802.11ax.
Expect to see devices compatible with the new standards by 2019.