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?

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It's not easy rounding up wireless devices

Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2017 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: wifi, wireless nic, wireless router, round up, broadcom, qualcomm, Marvell, mediatek, Intel, killer, netperf

As Sebastian discovered when he delved into the world of MU-MIMO routers, benchmarking the performance of wireless devices is not as easy as it sounds.  TweakTown recently put together a basic overview of the performance of a variety of wireless routers and NICs to see if there was one that stood out above the competition.  They used Netperf to test the cards latency and throughput on these routers, graphing them out for easy viewing.  The results display the performance at a distance of 20' from the router on both 2.4 and 5GHz bandwidths, with some interesting results.  Pop by for a look.

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"I've been pondering an article like this for a while but the logistics of getting everything in-house and testing never really came together. After completing my last round of articles, I suddenly realized I had all of the wireless NICs in-house that come in modern motherboards and laptops, apart from the Killer 1535, which easily enough was sent over to be included after emailing Rivet Networks."

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Source: TweakTown

Protection against Pineapple penetration is important

Subject: General Tech | November 22, 2017 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: security, wifi, hack, pineapple

Today Slashdot linked to an article about the popular Wi-Fi Pineapple as well as how to defend yourself against what it does.  Depending on what you are using it for, the Wi-Fi Pineapple is either a great tool for penetration testing networks you want to ensure are secure, or a way of gaining access to networks that haven't been fully secured.  It has been around for almost a decade and the hardware is quite simple, the only real difference between it and the wireless router you use is that the Pineapple has multiple radios so it can interface with hundreds of devices simultaneously.  Thanks to the software written for the device, even someone with very little understanding of network security can use it to conduct man in the middle attacks.  Thankfully there are ways to protect yourself from it and other attacks which you can read about by following the links in the Slashdot post.

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"The Wi-Fi Pineapple is a cheap modified wireless router enables anyone to execute sophisticated exploits on Wi-Fi networks with little to no networking expertise. A report in Motherboard explains how it can be used to run a Wall of Sheep and execute a man-in-the-middle attack, as well as how you can protect yourself from Pineapple exploits when you're connected to public Wi-Fi."

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Source: Slashdot

Don't let todays WiFi security Krack drive you into a panic

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2017 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: krack, wifi, security

If you are running Windows 7 or a more recent version and applied the patches from last Tuesday then you are essentially immune to KRACK attack, however older Android OS, Chromium, Linux, OpenBSD and Android Wear 2.0 are. There are several attacks that can be carried out via this vulnerability but all rely on modifying the key which connected devices use to protect data transferred over the wireless network.  KRACK replaces that key with one which the attacker has crafted, which allows them to intercept and decrypt packages sent over the wireless network, or to send there own disguised as an authenticated system.  Depending on the security you use and the OS you are on the attacker can carry out a variety of tasks, which Ars Technica describes in full.

If you are running an older Android device, especially one which no longer receives regular updates you should be concerened, Apple will offer a patch soon as will Google; for now if you have an up to date installation of Windows, the risks have been minimized thanks to the recent patches from Microsoft.

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"While Windows and iOS devices are immune to one flavor of the attack, they are susceptible to others. And all major operating systems are vulnerable to at least one form of the KRACK attack. And in an addendum posted today, the researchers noted that things are worse than they appeared at the time the paper was written."

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Source: Ars Technica
Author:
Subject: Networking
Manufacturer: Various

Introduction

Back in February we took a quick initial look at the eero Home Wi-Fi System, one of several new entrants in the burgeoning Mesh Networking industry. Like its competitors, eero's goal is to increase home Wi-Fi performance and coverage by switching from a system based upon a powerful standalone router to one which utilizes multiple lower power wireless base stations positioned throughout a home.

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The idea is that these multiple wireless access points, which are configured to communicate with each other automatically via proprietary software, can not only increase the range of your home Wi-Fi network, but also reduce the burden of our ever-increasing number of wireless devices on any one single access point.

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There are a number of mesh Wi-Fi systems already available from both established networking companies as well as industry newcomers, with more set for release this year. We don't have every system ready to test just yet, but join us as we take a look at three popular options to see if mesh networking performance lives up to the hype.

Continue reading our review of eero, Google Wifi, and AmpliFi!

Why the world of WiFi is as murky as the HiFi market

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2017 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: wifi, networking

Our own Sebastian Peak has delved into the nightmare world of testing WiFi, specifically MU-MIMO and explained some of the difficulties you encounter when testing wireless networks.  It is now Ars Technica's turn to try to explain why your 2.4GHz router never delivers the advertised 1,000 Mbps as well as how to test your actual performance.  As with many products, the marketing team has little interest in what the engineers are saying, they simply want phrases they can stick on their packaging and PR materials.  While the engineers are still pointing out that even the best case scenarios involving a single user less than 10 feet away, with clear line of sight will not reach the theoretical performance peak, the PR with that high number has already been emailed and packages are printing. 

Drop by Ars Technica for a look at how the current state of WiFi has evolved into this mess, as well as a dive into how the new technologies work and what performance you can actually expect from them.

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"802.11n was introduced to the consumer public around 2010, promising six hundred Mbps. Wow! Okay, so it's not as fast as the gigabit wired Ethernet that just started getting affordable around the same time, but six times faster than wired Fast Ethernet, right? Once again, a reasonable real-life expectation was around a tenth of that. Maybe. On a good day. To a single device."

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Source: Ars Technica
Author:
Subject: Networking
Manufacturer: eero

Living the Mesh Life

Mesh networking is the current hot topic when it comes to Wi-Fi. Breaking from the trend of increasingly powerful standalone Wi-Fi routers that has dominated the home networking scene over the past few years, mesh networking solutions aim to provide wider and more even Wi-Fi coverage in your home or office through a system of multiple self-configuring and self-managing hotspots. In theory, this approach not only provides better wireless coverage overall, it also makes the setup and maintenance of a Wi-Fi network easier for novice and experienced users alike.

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Multiple companies have recently launched Wi-Fi mesh systems, including familiar names such as Google, Netgear, and Linksys. But this new approach to networking has also attracted newcomers, including San Francisco-based eero, one of the first companies to launch a consumer-targeted Wi-Fi mesh platform. eero loaned us their primary product, the 3-piece eero Home WiFi System, and we've spent a few weeks testing it as our home router.

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This review is the first part of a series of articles looking at Wi-Fi mesh systems, and it will focus on the capabilities and user experience of the eero Home WiFi System. Future articles will compare eero to other mesh platforms and traditional standalone routers, and look at comparative wireless performance and coverage.

Box Contents & Technical Specifications

As mentioned, we're looking at the 3-pack eero Home WiFi System (hereafter referred to simply as "eero"), a bundle that gives you everything you need to get your home or office up and running with a Wi-Fi mesh system. The box includes three eeros, three power adapters, and a 2-foot Ethernet cable.

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Each eero device is identical in terms of design and capability, measuring in at 4.75 inches wide, 4.75 inches deep, and 1.34 inches tall. They each feature two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a single USB 2.0 port (currently restricted to diagnostic use only), and are powered by two 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi radios capable of supporting 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. In addition, an eero network supports WPA2 Personal encryption, static IPs, manual DNS, IP reservations and port forwarding, and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP).

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Continue reading our early testing of the eero Home WiFi system!

CES 2017: D-Link Launches New Wi-Fi Routers and Extenders

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2017 - 11:10 PM |
Tagged: wifi, D-Link, CES 2017, CES, 802.11ac

D-Link recently announced two new Covr branded wireless products that promise to blanket homes in Wi-Fi and eliminate dead spots. The Covr Wi-Fi System is a D-Link DIR-883 router and DAP-1655 extender kit while the Covr Powerline Wi-Fi System is a kit with two Wi-Fi equipped DHP-W730AV Powerline Ethernet adapters. The two kits are sold separately as are additional access points and powerline adapters to extend the network further.

The Covr Wi-Fi System will use a traditional hub and spoke setup with the extenders connecting directly to the central router. However, a promised future update will allegedly add mesh networking capabilities where the extenders can speak to other extenders allowing users to, well, extend the network further (at reduced bandwidth though) and/or improve spotty coverage.

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The DIR-883 and DAP-1655 support 802.11ac with MU-MIMO. Reportedly, the kit supports Qualcomm Technologies' Wi-Fi SON (Self Organizing Network) technology along with Smart Steering which boils down to technology that allows automatic load balancing between the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, traffic prioritization, and a single SSID that allows end devices to connect to whichever router or extender offers the best signal. The router supports 4x4 802.11ac and speeds up to 1733 MHz on the 5GHz and 800 MHz on the 2.4 GHz band while the extender supports 2x2 802.11ac with speeds up to 867 MHz (5 GHz) and 400 MHz (2.4 GHz). If it follows the same modes as the existing DAP-1665, it should support access point, bridge, and repeater modes though the specifications page does not detail this yet.

The benefit to this type of setup/kit is ease of use. In fact, the router and extender come pre-paired out of the box and while you can use existing wired connections as the backhaul to extend the wireless network for best performance, if you can't do that you can use repeater mode to extend the network without needing to lay new Ethernet or use MoCA/Powerline (at reduced performance). It is also a complete kit in that it comes with the router and access point(s) in the box.

Alternatively (or in addition to if you really want to get crazy with multiple extenders and adapters say in a multi-story or long ranch style home) the Covr Powerline Wi-Fi System is a kit that you can use to extend your existing wired home network to provide Wi-Fi (and wired Ethernet) to any location in your home with an electrical outlet. The specific adapters that D-Link uses (DHP-W730AV) each have two wireless antennas and three Gigabit Ethernet ports. Using Powerline AV2 MIMO technology (it can use any two of the three electrical connections, positive, negative, groud; whichever gets the best connection), the adapters are rated at speeds up to 1300 Mbps. (Note that you will see much less than this in real world speeds, and that this is the internal Powerline throughput number, and even if it was perfect (clean wiring, no interference, ect), it would be limited by the 1000 Mbps Ethernet ports and wireless connections. That overhead is needed though, because as you add additional powerline adapters, throughput is going to drop because the internet network is hub-like rather than switched.) D-Link claims the adapters offer roaming for devices, load balancing between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and a simplified single-button security setup (though if possible you should manually create a network key rather than use the defaults).

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The benefit to this kit is that you can bolt it onto your existing home network and/or simply pick your own router and switch if you want to unlike the other Covr kit. Using a wired backbone is also, at least in theory, more stable and performant than a wireless connection back to the router or worse an intermediary device (e.g. a true mesh setup).

As far as pricing and availability, the Covr Wi-Fi System and Covr Powerline Wi-Fi System will be available by Q2 2017 for $299.99 and $199 respectively.

Pricing seems to be okay for MSRPs and is certainly better than the $470 that D-Link wanted for the kit it announced at last year's CES! The powerline kit does seem to be on the expensive side to me but is not totally out of the ballpark of what I've seen. It is always good to have more options for home networking, and hopefully reviews will start trickling in as they get closer to launch.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2017: ASUS Announces HiveSpot and HiveDot Mesh WiFi

Subject: Networking | January 4, 2017 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: wifi, router, mesh, hivespot, hivedot, gigabit router, asus, 802.11ac

ASUS has just announced the HiveSpot and HiveDot Mesh WiFi systems, which both combine multiple access points into a single network. Any individual node could be configured as either a router or a repeater, but the system is designed around one acting as a router and the rest, repeaters. The main difference between the two models is the higher-end set, the HiveSpot, utilize an extra, 5 GHz band, running 867 megabit, that’s dedicated to communication between the access points.

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Because of this, the HiveSpot is listed as AC2134 while the HiveDot is AC1300, but devices that connect to this network will see two, 650 megabit bands in either case. What the HiveSpot will get you is higher performance (and maybe stability) should multiple devices be communicating with different nodes at the same time. With the HiveDot, the routers will be sharing the same bandwidth as the devices connecting to them.

ASUS wasn’t too clear about pricing in their press release, but CNet is reporting that they will be sold in bundles of three, which is the minimum for the mesh network. Three HiveSpot devices will carry an MSRP of $399 USD, while three HiveDots, $299. In other words, it will cost you $100 if you want the high-bandwidth, dedicated link between the nodes.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

Intel will be absorbing USB and WiFi duties into the chipset

Subject: General Tech | November 10, 2016 - 12:17 PM |
Tagged: wifi, usb 3.1, Intel

Rumours have reached the sensitive ears of DigiTimes about the inclusion of USB 3.1 and WiFi chips on Intel's upcoming 300-series chipsets.  This move continues the pattern of absorbing secondary systems onto single chips; just as we saw with the extinction of the Northbridge after AMD and Intel rolled the graphics and memory controller hubs into their APUs.  This will have an adverse effect on demand from Broadcom, Realtek and ASMedia who previously supplied chips to Intel to control these features.  On the other hand this could lower the price AMD will have to pay for those components when we finally see their new motherboards arrive on market.  Do not expect to see these boards soon though, the prediction for the arrival of the 300-series of motherboards is still around 12 months from now.

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"Intel reportedly is planning to add USB 3.1 and Wi-Fi functions into its motherboard chipsets and the new design may be implemented in its upcoming 300-series scheduled to be released at the end of 2017, according to sources from motherboard makers."

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Source: DigiTimes