Wi-Fi Alliance Bringing Improved WPA3 Security To Wi-Fi Devices This Year

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2018 - 10:27 AM |
Tagged: WPA3, wifi alliance, wifi, wi-fi, networking, encryption

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced an update to its Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security suite in the form of WPA3. The first major update in more than a decade, WPA3 is a very welcome and much needed refresh with four new features aimed at both personal and enterprise networks.

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Image courtesy Blue Coat Photos via Flickr Creative Commons.

The standards body did not go into many details on the new security suite, but did tease a few upcoming features in addition to closing known security vulnerabilities like KRACK. WPA3 uses a new 192-bit security suite "aligned with the Commercial National Security Algorithm (CNSA) suite from the Committee on National Security Systems" which is a collection of encryption techniques and algorithms that are reportedly up to the task of maintaining confidentiality on personal, enterprise, and industrial networks. Open Wi-Fi networks in particular will get the biggest boost from moving to WPA3 with support for individualized data encryption so that communication channels between the access point and users' devices are secured on a per-device basis. Personal networks also get improved security in the form of protections to protect users against themselves and maintain strong encryption even when they choose weak passwords. Setting up these security configurations is also being considered, and the Wi-Fi Alliance is promising easier configuration on devices with limited or no displays.

I am looking forward to more information on WPA3 as an update to WPA2 has been a long time coming. WEP has long been a joke and WPA2 has been vulnerable for a while so I hope that WPA3 lives up to its promises! What is not clear from the announcement is that if new hardware will be required or if WPA3 could be implemented through firmware and software updates. End user devices may be trickier to get updates from manufacturers, but perhaps wireless routers and access points can be upgraded without needing to buy new hardware. I suppose it depends on if radio and other hardware like the hardware accelerators / co processors need upgraded to support the new algorithms or not. In any case if you have been eyeing a new Wi-Fi AP or wireless router, maybe hold off for a few months to see how this shakes out.

Stay tuned for more information as it develops. What are your thoughts on WPA3 and the Wi-Fi Alliance's promises?

Also read:

CES 2018: Rivet Networks Partners with Intel for Killer Wireless-AC 1550

Subject: Networking | January 9, 2018 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: Wireless-AC 1550, wireless, wi-fi, Rivet Networks, networking, killer, Intel, CES 2018, CES, 802.11ac Wave 2

For their new wireless adapter Rivet Networks has partnered with Intel, producing "the worlds fastest 2x2 11ac wireless networking adapter" in the Killer Wireless-AC 1550. This new adapter supports the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard and offers up to 1.73 Gbps throughput using 160 MHz channels.

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"The first product to come out of Rivet Networks’ new partnership with Intel, the Killer™ Wireless-AC 1550 is the world’s fastest 2x2 11ac wireless networking adapter. The Killer Wireless-AC 1550 has been designed to combine the speed, intelligence, and control of Killer Networking products with the power and performance of the latest Intel wireless chipset. Delivering faster than gigabit Ethernet speeds along with the gaming functionality that gamers love, the Killer 1550 is the ideal wireless networking product for competitive gamers and performance users who demand the most from their computers."

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Killer Networking lists these features for the Killer Wireless-AC 1550:

  • Gigabit Wi-Fi Speeds: The Killer Wireless-AC 1550, featuring 160 MHz channel support, has a theoretical max throughput speed of 1.73Gbps when connected to a router that supports 160 MHz channels. This is faster than gigabit Ethernet and twice the speed of standard 2x2 11ac products.
  • MU-MIMO Support: Killer 1550 includes full MU-MIMO (Multi-User-Multiple Input and Multiple-Output) support, which dramatically increases network efficiency by working with a MU-MIMO enabled access point. MU-MIMO allows wireless access points to support multiple transmissions at the same time, versus a single transmission at a time like normal access points. This creates additional efficiencies that can provide up to 60% faster download speeds, lower latency, and a better overall connection.
  • Transmit Beamforming Technology: Killer 1550 also has Transmit Beamforming technology, which allows the Killer Wireless-AC 1550 to share location information directly to your wireless access point so that the access point can better direct its signals to you. This creates stronger wireless signals at all ranges and faster data transfers.
  • Complete 802.11ac functionality: Supports dual band (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), IEEE standards-based 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, and includes Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

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While the big news might be the Intel co-developed hardware, as this is a Killer Networking product the software is a big component in the overall experience. Options configurable via the Killer Control Panel include Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 for automated traffic prioritization for games and streaming, along with Lag and Latency Reduction Technology and Killer DoubleShot Pro support.

The first devices with the new Killer Wireless-AC 1550 adapter are being released this month.

AmpliFi Announces Teleport, a Zero-Config VPN For Travelers

Subject: Networking | November 7, 2017 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: wi-fi, vpn, ubiquiti, networking, mesh, Amplifi HD, amplifi

Earlier this year we took a look at the AmpliFi HD Home Wi-Fi System as part of our review of mesh wireless network devices. AmpliFi is the consumer-targeted brand of enterprise-focused Ubiquiti Networks, and while we preferred the eero Mesh Wi-Fi System in our initial look, the AmpliFi HD still offered great performance and some unique features. Today, AmpliFi is introducing a new member of its networking family called AmpliFi Teleport, a "plug-and-play" device that provides a secure connection to users' home networks from anywhere.

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Essentially a zero-configuration hardware-based VPN, the Teleport is linked with a user's AmpliFi account, which automatically creates a secure connection to the user's AmpliFi HD Wi-Fi System at home. Users take the small (75.85mm x 43mm x 39mm) Teleport device with them on the road, plug it in and connect it to the public Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and then connect their personal devices to the Teleport.

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This provides a secure connection for private Internet traffic, but also allows access to local resources on the home network, including NAS devices, file shares, and home automation products. AmpliFi also touts that this would allow users to view their local streaming content even in locations where it would otherwise be unavailable -- e.g., watching U.S. Netflix shows while overseas, or streaming your favorite sports team while in a city where the game is blacked out.

In addition to traveling, AmpliFi notes that those with multiple homes or a vacation cottage could also benefit from Teleport, as it would allow you to share the same network resources and media streaming access regardless of location. In any case, a device like Teleport is still reliant on the speed and quality of your home and remote Internet connections, so there may be cases where network speeds are so low that it makes the device useless. That, of course, is a factor that would plague any network-dependent service or device, so while it's not a mark against the Teleport, it's something to keep in mind.

Teleport's features, while incredibly useful, are of course familiar to those experienced with VPNs and other secure remote connection methods. In terms of overall functionality, the AmpliFi Teleport isn't offering anything new here. The benefit, therefore, is its simple setup and configuration. Users don't need to setup and run a VPN on their home hardware, subscribe to a third party VPN service, or know anything about encryption protocols, firewall configuration, or network tunneling. They simply need to plug the Teleport into power, follow the connection guide, and that's it -- they're up and running with a secure connection to their home network.

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You'll pay for this convenience, however, as the Teleport isn't cheap. It's launching today on Kickstarter with "early bird" pricing of $199, which will get you the Teleport device and the required AmpliFi HD router. A second round of early purchasers will see that price increase to $229, while final pricing is $269. Again, that's just for the Teleport and the router. A kit including two AmpliFi mesh access points is $399. There's no word on standalone pricing for the Teleport device only for those who already have an AmpliFi mesh network at home.

Regardless of the package, once you have the hardware there's no extra cost or subscription fee to use the Teleport, so frequent travelers might find the system worth it when compared to some other subscription-based VPN services.

The AmpliFi Teleport is expected to ship to early purchasers in December. We don't have the hardware in hand yet for performance testing, but AmpliFi has promised to loan us review samples as the product gets closer to shipping. Check out the Teleport Kickstarter page and AmpliFi's website for more information.

Source: Kickstarter

Computex 2017: Killer xTend Turns a PC into a Switch and Wi-Fi Extender

Subject: Networking | May 30, 2017 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: wireless, wifi extender, wi-fi, Rivet Networks, network, msi, lan, Killer xTend, Killer Networking, gigabyte, Ethernet, computex 2017, computex

Rivet Networks has a new Killer Networking product, but it isn't a line of NICs or Wireless adapters; it's actually a combination of both interfaces (including a minimum of three Gigabit Ethernet ports) that combine to turn your PC into switch and a Wi-Fi extender. They call the new product Killer xTend, and Rivet Networks has partnered with MSI and GIGABYTE to bring the new technology to market.

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"Killer xTend delivers powerful network extension capabilities to your computer by integrating a network switch that includes at least three Killer Ethernet ports and using a Killer Wireless-AC module as a Wi-Fi extender. This allows your computer to share its network access with other nearby wired and wireless devices with a strong, powerful network connection.

Consumers no longer need to mess with switches and network extenders that are expensive and difficult to configure. Instead, they can use Killer’s innovative new xTend Technology to connect devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones and tablets directly to their gaming PCs. Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing speeds – with potential throughput up to 1 Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867 Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module."

The first motherboard launching with Killer xTend is the MSI Z270 GODLIKE GAMING, with three Killer E2500 NICs and a Killer Wireless-AC 1535 module onboard.

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"...the new GODLIKE adapts the Killer™ xTend technology as well and delivers powerful network extension capabilities by integrating a network switch that includes 3 Killer Ethernet ports and a Killer Wireless-AC module as a Wi-Fi extender. This allows the GODLIKE GAMING to provide the network access to other nearby wired and wireless devices with a strong, powerful network connection. Gamers no longer need to mess with switches and network extenders that are expensive and difficult to configure – instead they can use Killer’s innovative new xTend Technology to connect devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones, and tablets directly to your gaming PC. The Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing throughput to your home – with potential throughput up to 1 Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867 Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module."

GIGABYTE's AORUS Gaming Series will include Killer xTend, though no specific models were mentioned in the press release from Rivet Networks.

Full press release after the break.

Linksys Releases EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Router

Subject: Networking | February 19, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: wireless router, wi-fi, router, mu-mimo, MAX-STREAM AC1900, linksys, EA8500, EA7500, 802.11ac, 4x4, 3x3

Linksys has announced availability of a new MU-MIMO wireless router, and the EA7500 features 3x3 802.11ac Wi-Fi along with 4x Gigabit LAN ports.

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“The Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900 features MU-MIMO, the latest advance toward uninterrupted, simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. Devices such as HD streaming media players, 4K TVs, tablets, and game consoles use a lot of bandwidth. But with MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) technology, the MAX-STREAM AC1900 sends advanced Wi-Fi to multiple devices at the same time and same speed. Your whole family can play, stream, and work at once, without experiencing lag or buffering - at up to 2x the speed of a non-MU-MIMO router.”

The specs include:

  • Wi-Fi Technology: AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-band Gigabit, 600+1300 Mbps 
  • Wi-Fi Speed: AC1900 (N600 + AC1300) 
  • Wi-Fi Bands: 2.4 and 5 GHz (simultaneous dual band)
  • Power Antennas: 3x external, dual-band, detachable antennas
  • Operation Modes: Wireless Router, Access Point, Wired Bridge, Wireless Bridge
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz dual-core 
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 4x Gigabit LAN ports, 1x Gigabit WAN port
  • Other Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port 
  • Storage File System Support: FAT, NTFS, HFS+

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Retail pricing is $199.99, placing it $50 below the larger 4x4 MU-MIMO EA8500 router ($249.99). If you’re looking to upgrade your router to take advantage of MU-MIMO technology (the benefits of which we covered in our review of the Killer Wireless-AC 1535), this EA7500 provides a new, more affordable option.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Linksys

ASUS Announces RP-AC68U AC1900 Wireless Repeater

Subject: Networking | February 9, 2016 - 11:24 AM |
Tagged: wireless repeater, wi-fi, signal repeater, RP-AC68U, router, dual-band, asus, ac1900

ASUS has announced a new high-end wireless repeater, and the RP-AC68U boasts dual-band wireless AC1900 speeds, and features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports to add wired devices to the network.

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"ASUS RP-AC68U works by connecting wirelessly to an existing router and extending the Wi-Fi signal to areas of poor coverage, which are often a problem in large or multi-floor homes. With its blindingly-fast up to 1900Mbps combined speeds (600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band), RP-AC68U is the perfect companion for extending the coverage of the latest 802.11ac routers, but it can also be used with routers supporting any older Wi-Fi standards."

The boxy shape is a big contrast from the giant spider-like designs we've seen from recent high-end routers, and inside the enclosure there are a total of 3 transmit and 4 receive antennas to extend the range of your dual-band 802.11ac network.

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The RP-AC68U has five Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, which ASUS says "allow users to convert any wired network devices to wireless operation", and there's a USB 3.0 port to allow additional devices to be added to the network. 

Specifications:

  • I/O ports:
    • 5 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN RJ45
    • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • Antennas: 4 x Internal antennas (3 transmit, 4 receive)
  • Memory: 128MB Flash / 256MB RAM
  • Operating Frequency: Dual band 2.4GHz & 5GHz
  • Wi-Fi Data Rate*:
    • 802.11ac: up to 1300Mbps
    • 802.11n: Up to 600Mbps
    • 802.11a/g: Up to 54Mbps
    • 802.11b: Up to 11Mbps
    • *Quoted network speeds and bandwidth based on current IEEE specifications. Actual performance may be affected by network and service provider factors, interface type, and other conditions. Connected devices must be compatible for best results.
  • 802.11ac Specification:
    • MIMO: 3 x 4
    • 20/40/80MHz bandwidth
  • Buttons:
    • WPS button
    • Power button
    • Reset button
  • Encryption:
    • WPA/WPA2-PSK
    • WPA/WPA2-Enterprise
    • WPS support
  • Mode:
    • Repeater
    • Access Point
    • Media Bridge
  • Dimensions & weight: 178 x 106 x 106 mm; Weight: 870g

Pricing and availabilty were not announced. Full press release after the break.

Source: ASUS

NVIDIA Stops SHIELD Android 6.0 Update After Wi-Fi Issues

Subject: Mobile | February 4, 2016 - 09:39 AM |
Tagged: wi-fi, shield tablet, shield, ota update, nvidia, android 6.0

NVIDIA has pulled the Android 6.0 OTA update for the original SHEILD (pre-K1) tablet after users experienced wi-fi connection issues. A post on NVIDIA's official forums explains:

"We have temporarily turned off the OTA update until we understand why a few users are losing WiFi connection after updating their tablet to OTA 4.0."

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(Image: Android Police)

The post is authored by Manuel Guzman of NVIDIA Customer Care, and includes a list of potential fixes:

  • Reboot your tablet 2-3 times. If this fails, power cycle your tablet 3-4 times (not reboot but complete power off). If this does not work, charge your tablet to 100% and attempt again a couple of times or so.
  • Factory reset your tablet. Make sure you backup any important files before you perform this step.
  • A couple of users reporting their WiFi coming back after leaving their tablet powered off for a few hours. Try leaving your tablet powered off for a few hours and then turn the device back on.

Users who still have issues connecting are asked to navigate to the Advanced W-Fi page on their tablet, and then to "take a screenshot and email the picture to driverfeedback@nvidia.com".

New Intel PCN Addresses NUC Overheating Issues

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | July 20, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
Tagged: Intel, dccp847dye, nuc, SFF, pcn, wi-fi

Intel recently posted a Product Change Notification (PCN, number 112432-00) regarding one of its first NUC bare-bones systems, model number BOXDCCP847DYE. The PCN seeks to address the overheating issues that several hardware review sites encountered when performing large file copies across the network using the built-in Wi-Fi card. Intel has reportedly found a solution by adding a 9.5mm thermal pad to the underside of the top cover. The thermal pad will make contact with the mSATA SSD and facilitate heat transfer from the drive into the metal chassis.

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The overheating problems spotted by PC Perspective (in our review) and other tech sites lead to system freezes and restarts. When transferring large amounts of data across the network, the built-in mPCI-E Wi-Fi card would heat up, and because the SSD is mounted just above the Wi-Fi card, the system would lock up or crash when the SSD overheated. Thus, Intel’s workaround is to improve the cooling of the SSD such that it (hopefully) will no longer overheat and users will not have to resort to buying a USB Wi-Fi dongle or running an Ethernet cable to the switch.

According to the PCN, the solution works and system retailers should expect shipments of the BOXDCCP847DYE with upgraded cover to arrive as early as August 1st. Notably, Intel is planning to ship out all pre-modification inventory before moving onto shipping updated bare-bones systems. It may be some time before consumers can be sure they are getting the updated model. In the meantime, users can always opt to use one of the many third party NUC cases that take full advantage of passive cooling techniques.

Source: Intel (PDF)

New Quantenna QSR1000 Chip Will Power 802.11ac Devices, Delivers Up To 1.7Gbps Throughput

Subject: Networking | May 28, 2013 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: wi-fi, quantenna, qsr1000, mu-mimo, 802.11ac

Quantenna, has announced a new 802.11ac QSR1000 chip that is capable of delivering up to 1.7Gbps throughput. The new chip achieves the wireless throughput by supporting a combination of Multi-User MIMO, four spatial streams, 256-QAM modulation, and beamforming technology. More information on 802.11ac and the related technologies can be found here.

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The Quantenna chip is a competitor to Broadcom's offerings and it is intended for use in wireless routers, access points, Set Top Boxes (STB), and other consumer electronics gear. It is the first "wave 2" (second iteration of the 802.11ac specification) 802.11ac chip, and is the fastest so far. Quantenna was able to get a theoretical max of 435.2Mbps of throughput per spatial stream, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, client devices (computers, smartphones, tablets, et al) will also have to support the MU-MIMO technology and have the hardware to transmit and receive multiple streams to take full advantage of the 1.7Gbps max throughput.

There is no word on which upcoming wireless devices the Quantenna chip will be used in, but the company is making the new QSR1000 chip available to manufacturers as early as Q3 of this year. Actual routers and other gear using the chip and widely available to consumers will likely not hit the market until early next year, however.

Source: Quantenna

CES 2013: Corsair Voyager Air Offers Wireless Mobile Storage and Home NAS Support

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Storage, Mobile | January 8, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: wi-fi, Voyager Air, NAS, mobile, corsair, CES

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The newest member member of the Corsair Voyager family of devices, the Voyager Air, drives Corsair's entry into the home networking arena with their all-in-one mobile drive and home NAS (network attached storage) solution.

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Courtesy of Corsair

The Voyager Air is as versatile as it is sleek, with support for the following hiding beneath its stylish hood:

 

  • Up to 1TB capacity drive
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Wi-Fi (802.11n/b/g), GigE Ethernet, and USB 3.0 support built-in
  • Wireless hub support for shared internet support via passthrough technology

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Courtesy of Corsair

The Voyager Air comes in a variety of colors as well, more than enough to match anyone's sense of style. According to Corsair, the Voyager Air units should be accessible at an electronics retailer near you in a 500GB model for $179.99 MRSP and a 1TB model for $219.99 MSRP.

Press release after the break.

 

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