The 6th Generation of Wi-Fi is Nearly Here... What Security Enhancements Can You Expect?

It’s always been a given that if you connect to public Wi-Fi, it’s not safe to login to sensitive accounts in case a hacker is on the same connection. That’s about to change. 

With the upcoming 6thgeneration of Wi-Fi technology being released by the end of 2019, several security enhancements are being added and one of them is to keep your traffic secure, even if you’re on a public wireless connection.

Internet connectivity has become more of a necessity than a convenience in today’s world and keeping our connections secure is big focus of the new WPA3 security protocol that comes with Wi-Fi 6.

81% of Americans connect to public Wi-Fi either regularly or occasionally despite the risks.

How secure is your current wireless router? Often when conducting our free IT security assessments, we find things like insecure network settings that can leave a business at risk. The new encryption protocols with Wi-Fi 6 will go a long way towards correcting user error when it comes to securing routers and give a boost to overall wireless network security. 

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Before we list the individual enhancements, let’s go over what Wi-Fi 6 is.

Wireless routers and other technologies that connect to them use wireless networking standards that are put into place by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

The standard didn’t really begin being referred to as “Wi-Fi #” until generation 4, but here is a brief rundown of the timeline of the technology that runs your wireless router and connections.

  • Wi-Fi 1: 802.11b (released 1999)
  • Wi-Fi 2: 802.11a (released 1999)
  • Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (released 2003)
  • Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (released 2009)
  • Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (released 2014)
  • Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax (scheduled for release 2019)

The security protocols in each Wi-Fi standard are called Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and they also have version numbers. This standard began with the 3rdgeneration of Wi-Fi.

  • Released 2003: WPA
  • Released 2004: WPA2
  • Upcoming 2019: WPA3

This update is what is particularly exciting because the last security protocol for wireless came out 15 years ago and we’re long due for an upgrade. Read on to find out what security and speed improvements you can expect with Wi-Fi 6 and WPA3.  

New Features in Wi-Fi 6 / WPA3

While better security is the main highlight of this new Wi-Fi technology update, you’ll also find some speed and connectivity enhancements included just in time for all those IoT devices that are increasingly being added to the same wireless network.

More Secure Connections on Public Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi 6 uses something called CERTIFIED Enhanced Open™ which beefs up security when you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network. It uses Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) a specification that provides data encryption to users even if they’re on a public network. This automated encryption keeps hackers on the same network from being able to spy on your activity.

Makes Offline Password Guessing Harder for Hackers

One trick that hackers use to get into a wireless network is to take their work offline and use password cracking software. The upcoming WPA3 security protocol stops this in its tracks by requiring network interaction on a potential login (also known as a Dragonfly handshake). This stops hackers trying to crack a login by downloading the network’s cryptographic hash and running cracking software.

Better Security for Enterprise & Government

If you have an organization handling particularly sensitive data, you’re going to be able to go a step up when it comes to encryption. WPA3 offers the ability to use 192-bit security, which is a more secure option for particularly sensitive wireless traffic.

More Data Transfer = Better Speeds

Wi-Fi 6 improves the speed of your Wi-Fi signal by approximately 25%, over the current 802.11AC version. It does this by allowing the signal to carry 10 bits rather than 8 bits. Which will positively impact things like streaming and download speeds.

Capacity to Handle More Devices

The number of devices connecting to our wireless networks is exploding with the use of voice activated assistants like Google Home and Alexa, smart thermostats, doorbell cameras, and more. 

The Wi-Fi 6 standard anticipated the additional capacity needed and increased device capacity by 4 times the capacity of Wi-Fi 5. 

More Bandwidth & Better Packet Delivery

The 6thgeneration of Wi-Fi offers capacity and efficiency improvements in how your wireless signal handles traffic. One of these improvements comes from the Wi-Fi band being expanded from 80 MHz to 160 Mhz. allowing more traffic on a network without buffering issues.

It’s something like a two-lane highway being expanded to four lanes, allowing more traffic to flow through faster. 

The use of OFDMA technology allows data packets to be delivered more efficiently. For example, the current technology has “virtual delivery trucks” that can only deliver one parcel at a time, but with Wi-Fi 6 that same virtual delivery truck can deliver multiple packages to multiple addresses (devices) at once. 

These improvements allow for a smoother and more powerful connection for everyone when you have multiple devices competing for the same wireless capacity.

Get Ready for Wi-Fi 6 with Technology Visionaries

Some device manufacturers are already releasing routers that can handle Wi-Fi 6 in anticipation of the release later this year. Get your office ready for the upgrade by contacting Technology Visionaries. We’ll help make sure you’re ready for a better and more secure internet connection. 

Schedule a free consultation today by calling 732-587-5960 or reaching out outline.