For quite some time there have been only two main types of wireless networks – open and closed (which are secure and encrypted). Most people have used smartphones and other devices to log into open Wi-Fi networks in public places, using the wireless network rather that the slower cellular connection. But, use of the open connection invites attack.
A long-standing method used by attackers is the “man-in-the-middle” where hacking into an open network allows access to personal information by capturing wireless traffic and routing it to the bad guys’ computers. This process can be particularly harmful if a government worker at any level regularly visits an establishment with an open network and utilizes a smart device that is also used for government business.
The new Enhanced Open Security Standard based on Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) can help to solve the potential problem by establishing a “handshake” exchange where the initial connection between a device and the access point for the open connection is automatically encrypted. This can only occur when both the smart device and the access point have OWE in place.
(summarized from nextgov.com)