What Is Wifi WPA-3 Personal Mode Authentication?

First Wifi products are now coming to the market that support WPA-3 personal mode authentication and ciphering key exchange so I thought it would be a good idea to have a closer look at how it works and why an update was necessary.

To answer the last question first: WPA-2 PSK (Pre-Shared Key) uses the Wifi password as basis for all authentication and encryption exchanges between Wifi access point and clients. Many networks only use short and thus very weak passwords, and brute forcing them offline without interaction with the network has become quite feasible with current generation computing hardware. WPA-3 tries to address this issue with a new authentication scheme referred to as ‘Simultaneous Authentication of Equals’ (SAE). It is based on Diffie Hellman Elliptic Curve Public/Private keypair generation algorithms that are also used for generating ciphering keys for secure HTTPS connections today.

The mathematical details of the process can be found in RFC 7664 and a good higher level description can be found here. Still, it took me quite a few hours to understand the principles, so I though I’d assemble a less mathematically focused description on the basics of  WPA-3 SAE and how it is used in practice:

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The Range of 5G Band n78

Over the past weeks I’ve noticed a few articles, posts and videos on the net that were looking at first 5G deployments in the wild and were commenting on the seemingly limited range of the 3.5 GHz band that is used for 5G NR. Some people noted that only 200m from the base station they could no longer use 5G and fell back to LTE. Therefore, they concluded, the range of the n78 frequency band must be very limited. But is this really so?

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Conference Calling Without Hold

I am probably one of the few people on the planet who uses ordinary conference calling quite a lot. When in a call with someone it is sometimes helpful to add a third person to the conversation. This is done by putting the other party on hold while the call is established to the third person. Once the third person picks up you have to explain that you have someone on the other line and would like to make a conference that person in. In most cases that explanation takes many additional seconds during which the other side is still on hold. In other words, this solution is far from ideal in practice.

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The US Will Get 3.5 GHz Spectrum for 5G – But Not Much

The spectrum situation for mobile services in the US has always been different from much of the rest of the world. More often than not, US network operators have to cobble together 5 and 10 MHz chunks of spectrum for their customers while in the rest of the world, aggregating 20 MHz channels is the norm rather than the exception. For 5G, the US again took a different path with mixed results so far. However, it now seems to be partly changed to match the rest of the world.

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Aurora – Android Without the Play Store

Image of the Aurora store app in F-DroidBack in February I wrote a post on how to download and install apps from the Google Play store to an Android device without a Google account. At the time  I was using ‘Yalp’, which is ‘Play’ spelled backwards. Unfortunately, the app became a bit unreliable over the months so I was very happy when I found an incredibly good replacement recently after reading about ‘Google alternatives’ on Kuketz-Blog (in German).

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The State of Open Source LTE

Open source implementations of pretty much all GSM network and UE components have been available for quite some time now and there are people that do use the software for private and commercial purposes. For many years now, for example, the Chaos Communication Congress has a dedicated private GSM network and, in recent years, a UMTS setup was added. And now, and I am very happy about this, the first successful attempt to also set-up a private LTE network has taken place at this years cccamp#19.

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State of Microwave Backhaul – Part 2

‘Because We Can’ is the motto when it comes to technology and Chaos events so when cccamp19 came around there were no less than three backup microwave links available to the land based temporary fiber cable to the next POP that rodents find quite attractive. In the first post on the topic I’ve described the first two that bridged a distance over 10 km and offered a bandwidth of 10 Gbit/s. For this post I’ve collected some technical details about the microwave link they had all the way to Berlin which was 57 km away!

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State of Microwave Backhaul – Part 1

Unfortunately I could not come to cccamp#19 so I missed a lot of fun. Fortunately, people shared a lot of technical details online so I was able to pull together a number of interesting details about the different microwave backhaul links that were put in place for the event as a backup to the cross country fiber that was somewhat unreliable at the previous camp due to the rodent population.

The last time I had a closer look in 2012, a wireless backhaul link speed of around 500 Mbit/s was state of the art. Things have progressed nicely in the last 5 years, we are now at 10 Gbit/s, symmetrical, of course.

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Discovering Converse.js: A cool XMPP Web Client

Screenshot of the Converse.js Login ScreenI like ‘Conversations’, my XMPP based messenger app on my smartphone and the list of people I interact with has grown steadily over the years. In some cases I would prefer, however, to use a messenger on my notebook with the same account as on my mobile. So far, I didn’t have a solution that I liked. There is of course Gajim, but unfortunately the current version doesn’t like the old libraries still used in Ubuntu 16.04. Updating to a newer OS version just for Gaijim was out of the question, however. But now I’ve found ‘Converse.js‘ a great web browser based solution that exactly fits my needs.

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