Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, more commonly referred to as WPA2, is the standard for Wi-Fi encryption, and has been since it was released over a decade ago in 2004. That is until today, when The Wi-Fi Alliance, a partnership of tech companies that decides the protocol for Wi-Fi, announced that WPA3 has been officially certified for upcoming Wi-Fi routers.
As Wi-Fi technology has improved and availability has increased, more and more sensitive information is being spread over wireless connections. Encrypting this information is a necessity, which is why WPA2 encryption became a standard for Wi-Fi routers in the first place. But over the years there have been multiple WPA2 vulnerabilities discovered.
Just last year researchers discovered a vulnerability that allowed hackers to access internet traffic from devices using WPA2 encrypted Wi-Fi. This Key Reinstallation Attack (KRACK) required the hacker to be within a close range to the target, so this was a dangerous attack for people using a public hotspot at places such as coffee shops and airports. Although the KRACK vulnerability was eventually patched, it highlighted the flaws within the outdated WPA2 system.
The new WPA3 protocol will offer a number of improvements to Wi-Fi encryption designed to prevent hackers from stealing your information. One big change is that a limit in offline passwords. In the past it was possible for hackers to steal encrypted information from a Wi-Fi data stream, bring it back to a private computer, and brute force the password until they find a match. With WPA3, only one guess can be used on offline data before that data becomes useless. A hacker must be connected to the Wi-Fi source to continue making guesses.
This is just one of the many security changes coming with WPA3. Although the new protocol has been approved, The Wi-Fi Alliance does not expect WPA3 to be adopted by most routers until late 2019. Even then, it will be even longer until The Wi-Fi Alliance makes WPA3 becomes a requirement for devices to be considered Wi-Fi verified. Until then The Wi-Fi Alliance recommends that anyone that buys a new router gets one that has adopted WPA3.