The Wi-Fi Alliance is now certifying devices compatible with the newly finalized WPA3 standard as part of the biggest security boost to router-based Internet communications in over a decade. The Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol was last updated in 2004 when the consortium started issuing WPA2 certificates, with its latest version promising improved Protected Management Frames performance meant to guard against traffic sniffers, more robust protections that should reduce the risk of misconfiguration vulnerabilities, and fully centralized authentication solutions powered by the cloud and supported by on-device redundancy measures.
The new security standard is being offered in two forms – WPA3-Personal and WPA3-Enterprise, with the former offering a secure key generator for communication between devices meant to strengthen even the weakest passwords. The latter's encryption boasts a 192-bit level of cryptographic resilience and has been designed specifically for business customers, as suggested by its very name. Qualcomm recently embraced the latest WPA protocol, having confirmed WPA3 will be supported by all of its future chips, as well as several existing ones. The Snapdragon 845 will be updated with WPA3 this fall, though phone manufacturers will likely have to optimize and push out that feature to their devices. A WPA3-compatible handset, tablet, or another client is just one part of the new security equation as consumers will still have to buy WPA3-supported routers, though a number of existing models are expected to be updated with those capabilities going forward.
Regardless, the complex nature of the protocol's deployment is likely to lead to slow rollouts, whereas large-scale, global adoption isn't expected until the next decade. Improved wireless security is becoming an increasingly more important goal for the technology industry, especially with the growing momentum in the Internet of Things segment. WPA3 clients will still be able to communicate with WPA2 hosts and the new standard will be regularly maintained and patched with bug and vulnerability fixes, much like the old one still is.