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iPhone hotspots in iOS 15 to gain WPA3 security

The rollout of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 this fall will help improve the security of iPhones and iPads as a Wi-Fi hotspot, with Apple including support for the improved WPA3 protocol for the feature in the operating systems.

Users of iPhones and iPads on iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 will be familiar with using their devices as a Wi-Fi hotspot, connecting their other devices to share their iPhone’s cellular connection. However, these impromptu hotspots are currently only able to offer connectivity over WPA2.

With the introduction of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, the inclusion of WPA3 support should help make the wireless hotspots more secure, reports MacRumors. While Apple devices are capable of connecting to existing WPA3 networks, the hotspot feature of iPhones didn’t offer the option to use the protocol, which will change in the next milestone operating system release.

Appearing in the beta versions provided to developers, the hotspot experience will remain largely the same as on iOS 14’s WPA2, with the changes largely surrounding inter-device connectivity, with a focus on defeating weak user-set passwords.

Announced by the Wi-Fi Alliance in June 2018, WPA3-Personal takes advantage of Simultaneous Authentications of Equals (SAE), a secure key establishment protocol to create and authenticate the connection. By having the device connect to the hotspot and authenticate before a network password is divulged, this can cut down the chance of an attacker successfully connecting and pulling off a dictionary-based password attack.

Building on top of WPA3-Personal, WPA3-Enterprise also adds in 192-bit encryption, further securing the connection. It is unknown if Apple is using the Personal version only, or will incorporate the encrypted enterprise version as well.

Though developers can try out WPA3 in their betas, other users won’t be able to until Apple releases its first public beta, due in July.

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