New Security Protocol

Security standards are getting an upgrade.

What's 15 years old and probably on most of your digital devices? If you answered WPA2, you'd be right. Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) is the security protocol most networks use. It's been around since 2003 and although it's been updated over the years, it's starting to show its age. Recent reports have shown that WPA2 has a security vulnerability that may leave devices open to hackers.

Dawn Kawamoto of Dark Reading reports on the Wi-Fi Alliance's recent announcement at CES in which they introduced new enhancements to WPA2 and also introduced a new security protocol - WPA3. The Alliance advises that the enhancements for WPA2 will probably be unnoticed by most users but will affect authentication, encryption, and configuration.

While WPA3 is based on WPA2, it also has new features that will provide increased security. These include additional protection for users with weak passwords and improved privacy for open Wi-Fi hotspots such as those found in coffee shops and airports. Other features include easier configuration methods for devices without displays and improved security for government and industrial networks. New devices featuring WPA3 are expected to debut later this year, but the standard will probably not be made available for older devices.

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Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. This article provides a good opportunity to discuss the various security protocols used by networks. Do students know what security protocol their devices are using? Do they know how to find out?
  2. Divide the class into small groups and have each group research one of the enhancements WPA2 or WPA3 is expected to provide (i.e. open hotspots, authentication, encryption, etc.). What are the problems or issues with this area now? How will these new enhancements resolve or improve them? Each group should create a presentation to share their findings with the class.
  3. As an individual project, ask students to research KRACK (also known as key reinstallation attack), the WPA2 vulnerability that was recently discovered. Students should write a brief report explaining this vulnerability and how it impacts devices and their security.

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