WPA3 vs WPA2: Comparison

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, or WPA2, is the second-generation standard wireless security protocol used to secure Wi-Fi networks since 2004. WPA3 is the current generation of Wi-Fi Protected Access since 2018, and it includes several major security improvements over the previous version. However, switching to a new technology is a significant undertaking, especially in enterprise and high-density environments. It’s essential to analyze the benefits of next-gen wireless security and weigh them against the hassle of upgrading your Wi-Fi architecture. In this guide, the wireless networking experts at MBSI WAV compare WPA3 vs. WPA2 and discuss the wireless access points from RUCKUS Networks that provide the best WPA security features.

MBSI WAV offers WPA3 and WPA2 wireless solutions from trusted brands like RUCKUS Networks. Reach out to one of our experts to find the best Wi-Fi access points and management solutions for your use case.

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3D text displaying WPA3, WPA2, and WPA
A key made of white encryption text.

WPA3 vs. WPA2: Encryption Strength

The older WPA2 standard uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as well as the Counter Mode with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol (CCMP). WPA3 uses the AES in Galois/Counter Mode (GCM), which encrypts each data transmission individually using a unique encryption key (192-bit for personal mode and 256-bit for enterprise mode). With a WPA3 access point (AP) like the RUCKUS R550, hackers must decrypt each transmission separately rather than using one key to decrypt all Wi-Fi traffic.

Key Takeaway: WPA3 encryption is much stronger than WPA2, so using a RUCKUS WPA3 AP results in a more secure Wi-Fi network.

WPA3 vs. WPA2: Authentication

WPA2 personal mode uses PSK (Pre-Shared Key) authentication, which relies on shared passcodes known to both the access point and the user. WPA2 enterprise mode uses EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol), which requires an authentication server and individual user credentials. WPA3 introduces the SAE (Simultaneous Authentication of Equals) method - a.k.a. The Dragonfly protocol - which uses stronger cryptographic algorithms and a more secure key exchange method. Wireless APs with SAE, like the RUCKUS R750, provide better protection against common hacker tactics like wardriving and dictionary password-guessing.

Key Takeaway: RUCKUS WPA3 APs use new authentication technology that offers better protection than WPA2.

A user authenticating to a wireless network
Signs pointing to a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.

WPA3 vs. WPA2: Public Network Security

WPA2 does not provide security for public wireless networks, which typically use the highly insecure 802.11 “open” authentication. WPA3 introduces the Enhanced Open security mode, which uses Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) to encrypt public Wi-Fi traffic. APs with OWE, like the RUCKUS R650, protect public networks without requiring authentication, so users don’t have to do anything to secure their connection.

Key Takeaway: RUCKUS WPA3 APs protect public Wi-Fi networks without requiring authentication, while WPA2 doesn’t offer any public wireless security.

Comparing WPA3 vs. WPA2

WPA3 offers significant security advantages over the older generations, particularly regarding encryption strength, authentication, and public network security.

Criteria WPA2 WPA3
Encryption Strength Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Counter Mode with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol (CCMP) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) in Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) with individualized data encryption
Authentication Pre-Shared Key (PSK) or Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) or Dragonfly protocol
Public Network Security None Enhanced Open security mode using Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE)

The biggest downside of WPA3 is that older client devices may not support it. To overcome this problem, RUCKUS Networks provides a range of high-performance Wi-Fi solutions offering both WPA3 and WPA2 security. With indoor, outdoor, and high-density wireless APs to cover any deployment design or use case, you can start taking advantage of enhanced WPA3 security sooner while gradually upgrading your network and devices.

As a trusted RUCKUS Networks distributor, MBSI WAV can help connect you with the best and most secure wireless solutions. Joining the RUCKUS Networks Partner Program provides benefits like discounted pricing, a dedicated network support team, and exclusive access to advanced Wi-Fi technology that’s guaranteed to be in stock when you need it.

Are you still weighing the pros and cons of WPA3 vs. WPA2? The wireless networking experts at MBSI WAV can help you find the best and most secure Wi-Fi technology. Reach out today to learn more.

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