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WPA3 vs WPA2: The next-generation of Wi-Fi security explained

The Wi-Fi Alliance has begun the process of certifying WPA3 devices, which means that the next generation of Wi-Fi security is just around the corner – and it 

Its predecessor WPA2 has been around for over a decade and so, short of changing your security settings in a last-ditch attempt to get an uncooperative router working, Wi-Fi security protocols are one of those things you barely think about.

But although WPA2 is frequently updated to protect it against new vulnerabilities, there are a couple of long-standing vulnerabilities that WPA3 is expected to address.

Related: Best routers

First up is its vulnerability to offline brute-force password-guessing attacks. With WPA2 an attacker is able to capture some of your Wi-Fi data, and take it away to repeatedly guess its password offline.

WPA3 fixes this by only allowing you one offline password-guess, making brute force attacks almost impossible to conduct via this method.

Next up is a feature called ‘forward secrecy’. Under the current standard, if an attacker gets into your network, then they’ll be able to uncover all your past data. WPA3’s changes mean that in the future an attack will only compromise ongoing traffic. Obviously not ideal, but it’s better than having access to everything.

We’re not sure that anyone’s going to be rushing out to buy a new router on the strength of these improvements, but with the new 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard emerging over the coming years it’s likely that you’ll get the WPA3 upgrade as a side-effect of chasing ever-faster speeds.

Of course, upgrading your router to the new standards won’t mean anything until the devices you’re planning on connecting to it also support the new functionality.

Both WPA3 and 802.11ax are backwards compatible, so your old devices will still work, but they won’t get all the shiny new bells and whistles that are available – so you might want to wait for the first-generation of WPA3 devices to break cover, if you’re in the market for a new router.

When do you think it’ll be worthwhile to upgrade your router? Let us know @TrustedReviews

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