- Wi-Fi Alliance announced the third generation of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Protected Access, WPA3, has been finalized. WPA3 improves on WPA2, which has been in use for over a decade, by simplifying security features as well as improving them. These improvements will enhance healthcare network security as more connected devices are introduced to the network.
The initial announcement of WPA3 came back in January. Hardware vendors can now begin to produce products with WPA3 security, but the products will still be interoperable with WPA2 protocols so legacy systems will still function properly.
WPA is a standard that provides security as different devices are sending and receiving data over a Wi-Fi connection. The standard prevents hackers from intercepting data through the wireless connection.
WPA2 uses the four-way handshake to authenticate data exchange by facilitating the process of creating encryption keys.
“Wi-Fi security technologies may live for decades, so it’s important they are continually updated to ensure they meet the needs of the Wi-Fi industry,” SAR Insight & Consulting’s Joe Hoffman said in a statement. “Wi-Fi is evolving to maintain its high-level of security as industry demands increase.”
WPA3 is available in two different modes: WPA3-Personal and WPA3-Enterprise. The enterprise version offers the equivalent of 192-bit cryptographic strength, which is an improvement over WPA2 that will cater to the needs of the healthcare industry. These improvements will provide additional security to data transmissions containing PHI and other sensitive data.
“Hospitals are keenly aware of the critical importance of data privacy and security and maintaining a robust security policy means accessing the strongest security measures available,” Philips Healthtech Director of Wireless and CTO Phil Raymond said in a statement. “Philips applauds Wi-Fi Alliance for building upon the success of WPA2 with the latest security mechanisms now available in WPA3.”
The WPA3 protocol will make it more difficult for hackers to run some of the more common cyberattacks and will offer better overall protection to organizations. Evolving security threats call for changes in network security standards, which is why WPA3 has been so highly anticipated. While WPA2 is still useful, it has several problems that WPA3 hopes to remedy.
“WPA3 takes the lead in providing the industry’s strongest protections in the ever-changing security landscape,” Wi-Fi Alliance President and CEO Edgar Figueroa said in a statement. “WPA3 continues the evolution of Wi-Fi security and maintains the brand promise of Wi-Fi Protected Access.”
In addition to the launch of WPA3, the Wi-Fi alliance is also introducing Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Easy Connect. Easy Connect is a program that will make it easier to onboard new Wi-Fi enabled devices without compromising security. The program caters to devices that have a limited or no display interface, such as wearables and fitness trackers.
Organizations can add devices to the network using another devices with a more user-friendly interface or by scanning a product QR code. Making these steps more simple but no less secure is critical to the evolution of connected devices, especially in a healthcare setting.
“The evolution of Wi-Fi to stay ahead of market needs has been critical to it remaining one of wireless technology’s greatest success stories,” IDC Research Director Phil Solis said in a statement. “Wi-Fi Alliance has been instrumental in Wi-Fi’s evolution, and diligent about delivering Wi-Fi CERTIFIED programs so users and a variety of markets can rely on the convenience of Wi-Fi connectivity and security to meet their needs.”
IoT devices are still new to healthcare organizations and cannot be secured the same way as more traditional devices like laptops and smartphones. This is especially true as more users are communicating data over the public internet.
WPA3 will help organizations more confidently and easily authenticate users and protect their network against outside threats.