One of the biggest shake-ups to wireless networks is right around the corner. We’ve been relying on the WPA2 standard since 2004, but WPA3 just started rolling out in 2020. This is a new hardware update for Wi-Fi security and it’s going to mean big changes for smart home devices.
We’re going to see more and more devices switching over to WPA3 in the coming years. Currently, there isn’t a lot of support for WPA3 in the smart home market. What about one of the smart device industry’s biggest names: Ring?
Ring does not directly support WPA3 on any of its Wi-Fi devices. Naturally Ring devices that stay connected using Z-Wave, Amazon Sidewalk, and PoE (Power over Ethernet connections) do not need to worry about WPA3 Wi-Fi networks. Amazon and Ring have not yet announced when they will start making devices that are compatible with WPA3.
Let’s get on the cutting edge of Wi-Fi security and take a look at how the new change to wireless networks is going to impact Ring devices.
What is WPA3 (A Quick Look)
Your Wi-Fi password is more than just a simple password. There’s actually a complicated security protocol built into the very firmware of a Wi-Fi internet connection. This protocol is known as Wireless Protected Access.
We’re currently on Wireless Protected Access 2. This standard has been implemented since 2004 and is now slowly starting to be phased out in favor of WPA3. The new WPA3 standard is expected to take over for WPA2 over the next several years.
WPA3 offers a much more sophisticated layer of security, but don’t worry, your Wi-Fi experience as a day-to-day user won’t change when we upgrade to WPA3. You’ll still be entering your Wi-Fi password like normal, but the firmware that protects your password will be more secure than ever before.
That’s a basic rundown of what the WPA3 change is going to mean but, there is one more change that we need to talk about. Smart devices are usually designed only with WPA2 in mind. This means that some smart devices aren’t going to be able to connect to a WPA3 network.
Which of Amazon’s devices are going to be the most impacted by the change to WPA3?
Ring Cameras, Ring Doorbells and WPA3
There are two big classifications of Ring devices that rely on a direct Wi-Fi connection. Ring cameras and Ring doorbells that are not Elite models use Wi-Fi connections to maintain their smart functions. This is a big issue for a wireless ecosystem that is increasingly moving to the WPA3 standard.
According to Ring’s own support website, there is currently no timeline in place for Ring switching over to the WPA3 standard. What’s more interesting is that this is a hardware issue for Ring. There will not be a simple firmware update that allows Ring devices to connect to WPA3. At the very least it seems unlikely that they can simply issue a firmware update to correct this issue.
We are still a few years out from WPA3 becoming a global standard for Wi-Fi password security. However, this change is guaranteed to come over the next few years. Ring camera and Ring doorbell users are going to need to consider whether or not they want to stick with a WPA2 router, or buy a WPA3 router – potentially disabling the less secure WPA2 mode – and then upgrade their physical Ring camera and Ring doorbell devices (if the WPA2 mode is disabled).
Amazon and Ring are yet to announce compatibility with WPA3, but we can expect that information to come out in the next few years. It takes a while for companies to phase in WPA3, so we’ve still got years of using our standard WPA2 Ring devices ahead of us. Just keep this change in mind when you’re purchasing new Ring devices over the next few years!
Ring Devices That Will Never Need to Worry About WPA3
If your smart home has a lot of Ring devices, there’s some good news for you when it comes to the WPA3 update. Most Ring devices do not rely on a direct Wi-Fi connection. They stay connected to each other through other networks like Z-Wave or Amazon Sidewalk. This means that they’re going to skip the WPA3 security update entirely.
Let’s take a closer look at these Ring devices.
Ring PoE Devices
There are two specific devices that we need to talk about here. The Ring Doorbell Elite and the Ring Stick-up Camera Elite. Both of these devices have a unique feature known as power over ethernet.
Power over Ethernet allows devices to receive their internet connection as well as the electricity they need to run from your ethernet cable. This means that they’ll never need to connect to your Wi-Fi network because they have a physical connection to the internet.
When you set up a Ring Doorbell Elite, you need to run an ethernet connection to your new doorbell. This will supply it with all the power it needs to function as well as an internet connection that allows it to connect with the rest of your smart home ecosystem. The same is true for the Ring Stick-up Cam Elite.
Physical connections are never going to need to worry about WPA3. The WPA2 and WPA3 standards only apply to Wi-Fi connections. The physical ethernet connection that keeps these Ring devices connected to the internet bypasses these Wi-Fi security protocols by having a safer physical connection to begin with.
Here’s a quick cybersecurity tip for your smart home. As a general rule, wired connections are safer than Wi-Fi connections. This is because a would-be hacker would need physical access to your devices in order to hack a physical connection. This is why we don’t see as many game-changing security updates to ethernet connections as we do for Wi-Fi.
What about Amazon’s recent addition of Z-Wave?
Ring Alarms using Z-Wave
Amazon and Ring have started to make moves into the Z-Wave and ZigBee spaces. This is good news for people who use smart home devices that rely on these types of connections. However, it does raise some questions about Amazon’s alarm system and WPA3.
In short, you’re not going to need to worry about the coming change to WPA3 if you use the Ring alarm system. The Ring alarm system operates based on a Z-Wave connection. This means that the Ring alarms communicate to each other using Z-Wave only. They then rely on a connection to a central hub in order to stay plugged into the internet.
The WPA3 security protocol will not impact Z-Wave or ZigBee devices. It only applies to devices that connect over Wi-Fi. You can safely operate your Ring alarm system without ever having to worry about whether or not it can connect through a WPA3 Wi-Fi network.
The last of Amazon’s systems that we need to talk about is Amazon’s Sidewalk.
Amazon’s Sidewalk is one of the most under-discussed aspects of smart home ecosystems. Let’s take a brief detour to stroll down Amazon’s sidewalk.
Sidewalk is Amazon’s name for their proprietary smart device Network. You can think about this as Amazon’s response to Z-Wave, ZigBee, and other smart device networks like Clear Connect RF. The big difference between sidewalk and these other options is in the radio frequency that Amazon has picked for this network.
Amazon’s Sidewalk uses LoRa which stands for “Long Range.” This is a type of radio frequency that is lower on the frequency spectrum and allows the radio waves to travel longer distances. Amazon primarily uses this network to allow its outdoor devices to communicate with your Echo Bridge inside your home.
Amazon’s Sidewalk isn’t Wi-Fi and it also isn’t strictly dependent on your Wi-Fi. This means that your Amazon Sidewalk devices will never need to worry about the coming change to WPA3. As long as your Echo Bridge can connect to the internet, your Amazon Sidewalk devices will be fine.
Should You Worry About WPA3 and Ring Compatibility?
This issue is a little tricky. This all depends on your personal Wi-Fi security standards as well as when you plan on updating your own systems.
Wireless router manufacturers just started making devices that are WPA3 compatible. This is a hardware issue. Devices often need to be physically changed in order for them to be compatible with WPA3. This means that the WPA3 rollout is going to be slow and steady .
You’re not going to need to worry about switching over to WPA3 just yet. You might buy a new router that is WPA3 compatible, but WPA2 is still going to be the default. WPA2 is also more than secure enough for most users.
You won’t need to worry about any security breaches or lack of support if you stick with WPA2. WPA3 will offer you more security, but it’s going to take time for this standard to become widely adopted.
By the time WPA3 is the new standard, Amazon and Ring will have already begun to release devices that are compatible with this new Wi-Fi protocol.
How to Get Ready for WPA3
What if you’re a cybersecurity buff and you want to get the jump on wpa3 to maximize your security? This is going to mean making a few changes to your smartphone ecosystem.
Currently, Amazon (and its sub-companies Ring and Blink) has no devices that are compatible with WPA3. However, Alexa does work with WPA3 as long as you have Alexa installed on a device that can connect to a WPA3 Wi-Fi network. This means that you can stick with most Amazon and Ring devices, but just change over to a router that can connect over a WPA3 network.
We’re still in the early adopter phase for WPA3. Being an early adopter is exciting and gives you access to the latest technology years in advance, but it does mean having to do some hacks and workarounds on your end to make sure everything works.