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It seems Wi-Fi Alliance announced WPA3 for the end of 2018.

  • Anybody knows exactly what is new? features, security improvements, etc...
  • Is it because of Krack attack? I thought patching WPA2 is enough.
  • Is WPA3 really needed because of its security improvements? or is just a "not mandatory" upgrade?
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    There are a number of unfortunate things about WPA/WPA2, such as the ability for a non-authenticated attacker to knock users off the network, or the fact that in a PSK setup, anyone with access to the network can eavesdrop on everyone else on the network. I don't know of WPA3 fixes them. – Mark Jan 10 '18 at 8:52
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    theregister.co.uk/2018/01/09/wi_fi_wpa3 provides some details and then "A spokesperson for the Wi-Fi Alliance told The Register in an email that further information will be made available once the WPA3 program launches." – Steffen Ullrich Jan 10 '18 at 9:25
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    I didn't look at wp3 yet, but an improvement is sorely needed, considering how much wpa2 Personal sucks. – CodesInChaos Jan 10 '18 at 12:59
  • @Mark Both unfortunate and plain old silly. The fact that the ESSID is used as the salt has always made me want to cry. – forest Mar 2 '18 at 10:22
  • @Mark, WPA3 does not address the ability to deauth/disassoc clients from a wireless network. However 802.11w does do so and is already required by the WFA to get their ac or Passpoint certifications. Please see my answer here if you want more specific details. – YLearn May 10 '18 at 22:14
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According to The Hacker News, here are major improvements :

  • WPA3 protocol strengthens user privacy in open networks through individualised data encryption.
  • WPA3 protocol will also protect against brute-force dictionary attacks, preventing hackers from making multiple login attempts by
    using commonly used passwords.
  • WPA3 protocol also offers simplified security for devices that often have no display for configuring security settings, i.e. IoT devices.
  • Finally, there will be a 192-bit security suite for protecting WiFi users’ networks with higher security requirements, such as
    government, defence and industrial organisations.

Thus I think it has some security improvements over WPA2

  • This is pretty much the press release in a nutshell. If anyone is a member and has more information, please add what you know. – Tom K. Jan 10 '18 at 9:01
  • Nice answer! I'm curious what "individualised data encryption" might mean... I guess we will have to wait and see. – Anders Jan 10 '18 at 10:12
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    @Anders "individualized data encryption" simply means that hotspots or open access points will issue unique keys to each unauthenticated client, instead of using no encryption for unauthenticated clients. This will prevent the guy in the cafe next to you from using wireshark to view your traffic. – John Deters Jan 10 '18 at 14:07
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    "WPA3 protocol will also protect against brute-force dictionary attacks, preventing hackers from making multiple login attempts by using commonly used passwords". This seems odd, are they saying it will protect against a handshake capture and offline cracking? If not, this doesn't really help. – multithr3at3d Jan 10 '18 at 21:49
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    @AXANO WPA2 Enterprise can provide some of these improvements (e.g. by using EAP-TLS), but it requires a complex setup with a bloated RADIUS server. – forest Mar 2 '18 at 10:25
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Anybody knows exactly what is new? features, security improvements, etc...

From what I have been able to gather so far, it appears to be a couple of required new features and a couple of optional features.

  • Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) - required. Based on RFC 8110, this is meant to ultimately displace open wireless networks. This adds a simple encryption to clients without the need to configure a PSK. However the lack of a PSK appears to leave this vulnerable to MitM attacks. Better than transmitting in the clear, but not by much.
  • Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) - required. A modification to the handshake to help prevent dictionary style attacks on PSKs.
  • AES 192-bit encryption - optional. A boost from the cryptographic strength used on wireless today (128-bit encryption).
  • Device Provisioning Protocol (DPP) - optional. A way to add devices to a secure network easily. Looks to be a replacement of the WPS, which has been broken for a while.

So far, nothing dramatically changing the face of wireless security, rather more enhancements than a new protocol. However it is a new certification from the WFA that devices will have to meet if they want to use WPA3 in their documentation/marketing.

Is it because of Krack attack? I thought patching WPA2 is enough.

Directly no. Indirectly, I would say yes. Consider that WPA2 (802.11i) is nearly a decade and a half old. While (patched) it remains secure today, this is a long time for a security protocol and KRACK caused many people to once again reconsider the role of wireless security.

The WiFi Alliance is simply strengthening the security that currently exists.

I will take a moment to note that unlike previous versions of WPA, WPA3 is not based on an IEEE ammendment to 802.11 (WPA based on draft 802.11i, WPA2 based on 802.11i). I don't doubt that there is discussion of a new IEEE working group to look into updating wireless security, but I am not aware of any formed at the moment.

Is WPA3 really needed because of its security improvements? or is just a "not mandatory" upgrade?

Not mandatory. However, WPA3 does help to strengthen wireless security.

Keep in mind that WPA3 doesn't really seem to be a replacement of WPA2, rather just additional features that the WFA will require to get their certifications.

  • While OWE may in theory be vulnerable to MITM, I would not be surprised if many hotspots included, rather than a password, a fingerprint that you must enter to verify the hotspot before connecting. – forest May 10 '18 at 7:16
  • @forest, from RFC8110 section 7, "Security Considerations": OWE is susceptible to an active attack in which an adversary impersonates an access point and induces a client to connect to it via OWE while it makes a connection to the legitimate access point. In this particular attack, the adversary is able to inspect, modify, and forge any data between the client and legitimate access point. Therefore it is vulnerable to MitM. – YLearn May 10 '18 at 22:02
  • Actually, on further consideration, this may make clients MORE vulnerable to MitM for at least the short term (until most open networks are OWE capable). WPA3 Clients will likely prefer OWE networks over legacy open networks, so an attacker will simply need to impersonate an open network with a OWE network to get WPA3 capable clients to connect to it over the actual network. – YLearn May 10 '18 at 22:55
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    You're right, I read through the RFC and saw nothing about even optional fingerprint-based authentication. That is really sad because businesses could provide a QR code to scan which gives the figerprint, but the protocol doesn't even support that. That also means that "access point pinning" might not be possible. I don't think OWE would be more vulnerable though, because an active attacker can equally violate confidentiality, integrity, and availability completely for both OWE and legacy open networks. There is no need for them to use OWE to become a "preferred" network. – forest May 11 '18 at 1:16
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    @forest, I had forgotten about 802.11z/TDLS as I personally have seldom seen it used. Thanks for the reminder, I will have to go do some research to refresh my memory when I get a chance. While TDLS is a means of two devices negotiating a direct connection over a common network, IIRC this is entirely done by the end client devices themselves with no interaction from the AP. When they establish the connection, they in essence tell the AP they are going to sleep and use that time to communicate directly while "waking" up to listen to the AP every DTIM period. – YLearn Jun 1 '18 at 5:28

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