• Richard Blech

Getting the Most out of Wi-Fi 6E, Securely



The rise in demand for more agile and secure Wi-Fi connectivity is not surprising. Organizations want to transition to the cloud as quickly as possible. The number of IoT and IIoT devices continues to grow as do the wireless functionalities built into the devices. Astronomical amounts of data are used by organizations as a matter of routine, but require significant bandwidth to move efficiently. These issues and more require Wi-Fi that is able to meet the moment. This is exactly what organizations were provided with when the Federal Communication Commission allotted 1,200 MHz of spectrum in the 6GHzbank for unlicensed Wi-Fi use. But as with every new technology development, particularly one in which online access is a factor, the protection of data should be a continuing priority.

WI-FI IN THE 6 GHZ BAND MAKES ROOM FOR BETTER APPLICATION PERFORMANCE

Wi-Fi 6E is an expansion of the Wi-Fi 6 standard. It allows access to the 6 GHz frequency band, providing an additional 1,200 MHz of bandwidth. For comparison, the bandwidth offered by the 5 GHz band is 500 MHz. This additional spectrum is critical to sustaining the growth of Wi-Fi, especially as IoT’s role as a standard part of business operations in all industries continues to expand.

With the correct deployment, organizations can use Wi-Fi 6E to address issues that often plague the less powerful 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands:

  • Inadequate Capacity. Wi-Fi network connection and congestion issues are resolved with the extra capacity provided by the additional non-overlapping channels in the 6 GHz band. This means that densely populated IT and IoT environments can be supported without sacrificing performance.

  • Limited bandwidth issues. With channels that range from 80 MHz up to 160 MHz wide, data-intensive applications that require high-bandwidth and ultra-low latency, like high-definition video conferencing, can perform optimally. High volumes of data, such as multiple gigabytes of traffic, can be sent and received at maximum speeds.

  • Interference. As only 6E-capable devices can be used on the band, the frequency interference that is typical on other bands is eliminated, improving the performance and efficiency of applications.

WI-FI 6E CYBERSECURITY VULNERABILITIES

Wi-Fi 6E is considered to be more secure than its predecessors, mostly due to the mandatory inclusion of Wi-Fi Protected Access 3, or WPA3, (for enterprises, specifically, the WPA-Enterprise provides 192-bit encryption), Enhanced Open certification support and Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE). However, the adoption W-Fi 6E still comes with cybersecurity risks.

Unauthorized Devices. Wireless devices that provide hackers with an unsecured and wide-open gateway to an organization’s wired infrastructure continue to be an issue in the new Wi-Fi iteration. These devices can be used to launch attacks for pilfering data, interrupting critical services, installing malware and more. Vendors who create the devices should create them with security safeguards specifically for the 6 GHz frequency band, but organizations should still incorporate the layers of security solutions necessary to protect the devices that are part of their networks. This includes optimized encryption and cryptography solutions that can supplement the security already installed on the devices.

OWE Wi-Fi 6E Vulnerabilities. While the OWE is mandated in 6 GHz and may provide encrypted sessions between two endpoints, protecting the transmissions from other endpoints, it hardly provides sufficient of comprehensive cyber protection. One glaring deficiency is the lack of authentication. While WPA3 mandates authentication, organizations should use additional encryption solutions in which stronger encryption and authentication are standard features.

No Compatibility with WPA2. Because there is no compatibility support for WPA2, organizations will have to carry out various levels of security for the different frequency bands. As the use of WPA2 is expected to continue to be pertinent in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands for some years, this results in additional complications in protecting an organization’s network. For example, when new zero-day software or hardware vulnerabilities are discovered, vendors may not include the older devices in their updates. This means that there could be vulnerable, unpatched devices within the organization’s network system.

PROTECTING YOUR WI-FI- 6E USE

The necessity of incorporating a Zero-Trust strategy when addressing network security becomes more apparent each time a new technology development makes the landscape of business networks more connected, creating an even larger attack surface for hackers. While using Wi-Fi on the 6 GHZ band allows organizations to leverage phenomenal speed and capacity capabilities, it requires even more vigilant protection of data and access points. This entails the use of encryption protocols in which authentication is a native feature, such as with XSOC CORP’s WANSOCKET, which can prevent hackers from navigating laterally within network if they are able to penetrate a 6E device.

The strength of the encryption solution that is used is also important. For example, the baseline encryption strength the XSOC Cryptosystem provides is the quantum-safe 512 bit encryption, significantly higher and more secure than that provided by WPA-Enterprise or SAE (which replaced the PSK of the WPA2).

USE XSOC TO PROTECT YOUR DATA ON 6 GHZ

The use of Wi-Fi 6E requires the adoption of new devices and tools, and organizations may consider those costs a small price to pay in exchange for the benefits using the 6 GHz band provides. However, even as organizations begin harnessing the Wi-Fi network, they have to be aware of the very real cybersecurity risks it presents. Speak with an XSOC CORP expert to learn how our solutions can help secure your data on the 6GHz band.