WiFi Protected Access 3 (WPA3)

The WiFi Alliance presented a new technological breakthrough in the world of network security since the creation of the first WiFi Protected Access in 2003. After 14 years of fixing the design to address the shortcomings of the previous network security protocols, the WiFi Alliance announced the release of WPA3 in January 2018.[1]

Types of WPA3

WPA3 is basically the upgrade the WiFi community is waiting for. It has two types, the WPA3-Personal and WPA3-Enterprise. Stated below are its differences and functions.

WPA3-Personal

This type features easier password selection for users to easily remember. It also feats a higher level of security wherein data stored and data traffic in the network will not be compromised even if the password was hacked and data was already transmitted. The upgrade also enabled the Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) which replaced the Pre-shared Keys (PSK) in WPA2-Personal.

WPA3-Enterprise

This type was mainly built for tighter and consistent application of security protocols across networks of governments, establishments, enterprises, and financial institutions. Offering optional 192-bit minimum security, the WPA3 will make cryptographic tools better. Hence, better protection for sensitive data.[2]

New WPA3 features

Since it took 14 years for release, major improvements and features are expected from the WPA3. Although these features are highlighted, only the dragonfly handshake is required for WPA3 certification according to the WiFi Alliance.

Dragonfly Handshake

The Dragonfly Handshake or the Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) protocol will require an encryption key for new interactions within the network. This will delay the impact of a possible attack as well as make the password stringent and harder to crack. The SAE also averts the possible decryption of data when offline.

Replacement of the WPS

WiFi Device Provisioning Protocol or DPP is a new and easy way to add new devices more securely. The Easy Connect feature makes connections at home and Internet of Things (IoT) devices more easily via a QR code.

Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE)

When using hotspots in public, users are given better protection through the Wi-Fi Enhanced Open that provides unauthenticated encryption.

Larger Session Key Sizes

The larger session key size will make passwords harder to crack. This feature is available to WPA3-Enterprise that supports 192-bit security throughout its authentication stage.[3]

NFC Authentication

Near Field Communication can also be included in the WPA3 certification. This technology is used by tapping together devices to connect in an extremely short distance. There is no way to trick the NFC via long distance. By tapping the device or IoT against the access point, you can easily connect if you have WPA3 router. This easy connect may be low on security but is more convenient for the users since they will no longer have to remember passwords, and once the device is in, it will be stored there for future connections.[4]

WPA3 Improvements

Quick Connections of Wi-Fi devices

Like stated previously, an easy connection is better in WPA3 and what lacks in the WPA2 protocol. The addition of IoT devices like your WiFi speakers and WiFi cameras can be both unsafe and hard. This is because these devices do not provide a display option for the user to enter passwords and configure the security settings. By doing so, a third-party program or application is required, thus making these devices prone to attacks and cybercriminals to exploit. Enhanced security for home devices via QR codes is also one feature that WPA3 offers that is not available for WPA2.

Higher security for public networks

Using WiFi hotspots in public is usually a gamble. It is prone to attacks since it is an open and unsecure network. WPA3, in turn, provides higher data security when you connect to it. Meaning, data sent and received via the unsecure network will remain encrypted and safe. This works even if the network has no password for protection.

Higher security for the enterprise

WPA3, unlike the WPA2, provides a 192-bit security suite that provides a stronger security system for the enterprise environments. Bigger encryption keys are used especially in important enterprises like defense, industrial applications, and of course, the government. The larger the key size entails higher security of data encryption. This also makes it harder for hackers to penetrate critical networks.[5]

WiFi Device Provisioning Protocol

Instead of shared passwords, WPA3 will be able to sign up new devices that won’t require this in the process. The new system is called the WiFi Device Provisioning Protocol (WiFi DPP). The system functions by transmitting the procedure to gain access through the air without transmitting a password. QR codes and NFC tags are used by users to connect to the network. A device can be authenticated by the network by taking a picture or by receiving a radio signal from the router.[6]

Since the WPA3 is not yet compatible and available with all products, upgrading to it will take time so clients would still have to use their WPA2 equipment and devices. The release of 802.11ax is imminent which creates the vendor demand for WPA3. This will give buyers the upgrade in performance as well as security. In this day and age, no one can have too much of either.[7]

The leap into the digital age is greatly attributed by the development of the internet and the wireless network technology. Wireless networks are continuously improving its service by improving security and performance. Although it still has its shortcomings, WiFi providers are doing everything to address its vulnerabilities to avoid attacks from all sorts of cybercriminals. Despite the rise and availability of secure wireless networks, many parts of the world and its organizations and counterparts remain vulnerable. These vulnerabilities, if not addressed immediately may result in an entire system breakdown from attackers. Security experts recommend to always keeping the network security up to date to avoid these kinds of problems.

It will take a year or two to fully implement the WPA3 in some places in the world. More advanced countries will lead to this change, and hopefully, the rest of the world can follow through.


  1. https://www.networkworld.com/article/3316567/what-is-wpa3-wi-fi-security-protocol-strengthens-connections.html ↩︎

  2. https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/security ↩︎

  3. https://www.comparitech.com/blog/information-security/what-is-wpa3/ ↩︎

  4. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2019/03/802-eleventy-who-goes-there-wpa3-wi-fi-security-and-what-came-before-it/2/ ↩︎

  5. https://kb.netgear.com/000060424/What-is-WPA3-and-how-does-it-work-with-my-NETGEAR-Nighthawk-AX12-router ↩︎

  6. https://www.netspotapp.com/what-is-wpa3.html ↩︎

  7. https://www.itprotoday.com/mobile-management-and-security/wpa3-security-theres-no-such-thing-too-much-security ↩︎