There’s a big security update that’s coming to Wi-Fi routers across the country and it’s coming soon. The WPA2 standard is set to be replaced by WPA3 over the next few years. This leaves us with some pretty big questions about our smart home ecosystems that are all tuned to run on WPA2.
WPA3 is going to make a big difference when it comes to cybersecurity. The connection to your Wi-Fi router is going to be much safer after updating to this new standard. However, all of our smart technology is going to have to update in order to accommodate this Wi-Fi connection.
Amazon does not have any Echo devices that work with WPA3. Amazon’s Alexa can work with WPA3, but that depends on if you have a device that can connect to a WPA3 Wi-Fi network and run Alexa. Amazon will probably introduce WPA3 compatible Echo devices over the next few years.
Let’s take a deep dive into one of the biggest changes coming to smart home cyber security.
What is WPA3?
WPA3 stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access 3. This is the latest standard for security for Wi-Fi passwords. It is going to replace WPA2 over the next few years. WPA2 has been in place since 2004! Before we start getting nostalgic for early 2000s internet security trends, let’s take a look at the new WPA3 standard.
WPA3 is simply an update to the already existing WPA2 standard. We won’t get bogged down with the technical details of why WPA3 is better, but suffice it to say that this new standard offers individuals much better protection. WPA3 uses more sophisticated programming to protect your Wi-Fi network: it’s almost like flicking a switch from “Insecure Wi-Fi network” to “Secure Wi-Fi Network”!
You won’t even have to update to a more complicated password. Your existing password will be much safer under WPA3 than it is under WPA2.
This leads us to our first question. Why aren’t people switching it to WPA3 today, if it’s better than WPA2?
Why are People Switching to WPA3?
WPA3 has been in the works for several years and first started certifying devices in 2018. The process for adopting new Wi-Fi Protected Access standards typically takes several years. We will slowly start to see WPA3 compatible devices trickle in over the next five or so years before this takes over from WPA2.
There’s one big reason why people are switching over now to this new standard. WPA3 is already much more secure than WPA2 can ever be. Since WPA3 had a soft launch in 2018, WPA2 has officially become an outdated form of digital security.
This is leading people to make the jump to WPA3. You can easily find a WPA3 compatible router anywhere you shop for technology online. It’s the cutting edge of Wi-Fi security, but it’s not that hard to find.
If you’re into smart home technology, there’s a good chance that you’ve been an early adopter for some piece of tech that’s come out recently. There’s a lot of fun to be had with her early adopter status. You gain access to the latest and best technology while everyone else is still fussing around with the last generation of devices.
The same is true for WPA3. People who can update to this new security standard today are going to be ahead of tomorrow’s curves. However, there are some pretty big reasons why people aren’t throwing out all of their WPA2 Wi-Fi routers.
What are the Downsides of WPA3?
Here’s the big drawback to WPA3 that has most people waiting for this technology to become more supported. WPA3 is currently only supported by a handful of devices. There’s a good chance that your modern smartphone can handle WPA3, but a lot of the bridges and smart devices your home relies on might not be able to access the WPA3 standard.
Smartphones like the iPhone and those powered by Android have been supporting WPA3 for a few years now, but smart tech itself is just starting to make the leap forward.
What this means is that you’ll definitely be able to buy some WPA3 technology products, but there’s no guarantee that any of the devices you already have in your home will be able to work with this new standard. What does this mean on a practical level for your day today smart home needs?
Let’s say you update your router to the WPA3 standard, but you don’t update all of your smart home devices. This is probably going to mean that any devices that can’t connect through the WPA3 protocol will instead fall back to the older, less secure WPA2 standard.
Unless, of course, you configure your router to only support WPA3 (just like WPA1 and other less secure standards have been long disabled). In this case, none of your smart home devices will work anymore. They won’t be able to access the internet.
That’s one big reason why WPA2 will exist for a while yet: we can’t simply disable WPA2 on the router!
With all of this in mind, is WPA3 really better than WPA2?
Is WPA3 Better Than WPA2?
WPA3 is technically better than WPA2. However, many devices have yet to enable or become compatible with WPA3. This means that most of us are still better off sticking with WPA2 for the time being.
As WPA3 becomes more common and more supported, switching over to this form of conductivity will be a better choice for your cybersecurity. WPA3 is currently not an actively used standard. It’s still in the early stages of its development and the process for rolling out these types of cybersecurity protocols typically takes a few years.
Now let’s take a look at Amazon’s smart devices and if they can work with WPA3 technology.
Does Amazon Echo or Alexa Support WPA3?
This is going to be a little tricky. A lot of people think that Echo, Alexa, and Amazon are all the same product and service. However, the truth is that each of these entities connects with different technology and has a different relationship to WPA3.
Let’s look at Amazon’s Echo device and their Alexa smart assistant separately.
Amazon Echo WPA3
This one’s going to be the fastest to answer. No, Amazon Echo does not currently work with WPA3. As far as the latest news goes, Amazon does not currently have plans to make a WPA3 compatible Echo device.
However, this is going to change over the years. It’s only a matter of time before WPA3 becomes the default standard for wireless password protection the world over. Amazon will likely start to make Echo devices that are WPA3 compatible in the near future.
We’ve seen these kinds of advances with Amazon devices before. Amazon typically introduces new and cutting-edge features on their high-end Echo products. There’s probably an Amazon Echo Pro that’s WPA3 compatible that’s only a few years out.
Until then, we’re just going to have to stick with WPA2 when we use Amazon Echo with our smart home ecosystem. WPA2 is still fairly safe. While it is less safe than WPA3, most users are fine with the security provided by a WPA2 Wi-Fi router.
Amazon’s Alexa WPA3
Echo and Alexa are not interchangeable. This is something that gets people tripped up all the time when it comes to Amazon’s place in the smartphone market. Let’s take a second to pull these two technologies apart before we talk about how Alexa works with WPA3.
Every Echo device is powered by Alexa. That smart voice assistant inside your Echo device? That’s Alexa. However, if you have the Amazon app on your phone, then you have an Alexa device that is not an Echo product. In short, Alexa is Amazon’s smart assistant while Echo is a smart home product that just happens to use Alexa.
Now let’s talk about using Amazon’s Alexa and WPA3. Alexa doesn’t actually have much to do with the WPA3 standard. Alexa is a software that exists on your smart device. As long as your device can connect through the WPA standard, Alexa will still be able to reach the internet.
This means that you’re safe to switch over to the WPA3 standard as long as you’re just using Alexa from devices like your smartphone or tablet. Since it’s the smartphone or tablet itself that’s connecting through WPA3, Alexa will still be able to reach Amazon servers and function as your smart assistant of choice.
What’s the Future for Amazon’s Smart Home Tech and WPA3?
Staying on top of your cybersecurity is one of the best moves that you can make. As we increasingly work, shop, and socialize online, we need to make sure that we are up-to-date with the latest security standards. We’ve all heard horror stories of people having their smart fridge hacked to spy on their Wi-Fi network traffic, but you can avoid that by staying on top of security updates like WPA3.
WPA3 has already been finalized and is going to be released over the next few years. Even a company as big as Amazon isn’t going to be able to stop WPA3 even if it means they have to update their products. That’s also exactly what Amazon they’re going to do.
Smart tech companies regularly update their products to match the latest standards when it comes to cybersecurity, Wi-Fi connectivity, and other industry-wide changes. The latest line of Amazon Echo products supports ZigBee too, for very similar reasons.
It might be a few years before Amazon starts including WPA3 in all of its devices as a default, but if you want to stick with Amazon for your smart home ecosystem, then all you need to do is wait.