Wireless security protocols encrypt all data you send and receive when connected to the internet and prevent hostile attackers from accessing your wireless network.
Choosing the proper encryption level is equally crucial. This post clarifies the key distinctions among the most used wireless security protocols, namely WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WP3.
Without security safeguards in place, data can be easily collected as wireless networks transfer data using radio waves. The first effort at wireless security was Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which was released in 1997. The purpose was to encrypt data to increase wireless network security. If wireless data were intercepted, the interceptors would not be able to decipher it since it had been encrypted. However, systems that have permission to access the network would be able to recognize and decode the data. This is due to the network’s devices using a common encryption technique.
WEP encrypts data using a hexadecimal key of 64 or 128 bits. Since this is a static key, a single key is used to encrypt all traffic, irrespective of the device. A WEP key enables computers connected to a network to communicate via encoded messages while protecting the contents from unauthorized access. To connect to a wireless security-enabled network, use this key.
Man-in-the-Middle assaults were one of WEP’s primary objectives, which it accomplished for a while. But over time, a number of security weaknesses in the WEP standard were found, despite changes to the protocol and bigger keys. Criminals could now take advantage of those weaknesses more easily as computational power rose. The Wi-Fi Alliance formally abolished WEP in 2004 due to its flaws. Although it is occasionally still used, WEP security is now regarded as outdated. This might be because network managers haven’t changed the wireless routers’ default security settings or outdated hardware can’t handle newer encryption technologies like WPA.
WPA, or WiFi Protected Access, followed. The Wi-Fi Alliance replaced WEP with this protocol, which was first introduced in 2003. It was comparable to WEP but featured enhancements in the management of security keys and user authorization, which dynamically changes the key that systems use, in contrast to WEP, which assigns the same key to every authorized system. As a result, hackers cannot produce an encryption key identical to the one used by the secure network. The Advanced Encryption Standard eventually replaced the TKIP encryption standard (AES).
WPA also contained message integrity tests to see whether an attacker had intercepted or changed data packets. The WPA system employed 256-bit keys, a major improvement over the WEP system’s usage of 64-bit and 128-bit keys. WPA2 was created as a result of WPA being partially abused despite these upgrades.
The phrase “WPA key” is occasionally used in connection with WPA. To join to a wireless network, you must enter a password known as a WPA key. Whoever manages the network can provide you with the WPA password. A wireless router may occasionally have a default WPA passphrase or password. Your router can be resettable if you cannot figure out the password.
An improved version of WPA, WPA2, was released in 2004. Based on the resilient security network (RSN) technology, WPA2 has two modes of operation:
Pre-shared Key (WPA2-PSK), also known as personal mode, is typically utilized in residential settings and depends on a shared password for access.
As the name implies, enterprise mode (WPA2-EAP) is better suited for organizational or corporate use.
The CCMP( Counter Mode Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol) is used by both modalities. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm, which enables message authenticity and integrity verification, forms the foundation of the CCMP protocol.
Compared to the original Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) used by WPA, CCMP is more robust and dependable, making it harder for intruders to detect patterns.
WPA2 still has issues, though. It is susceptible to key reinstallation assaults, for instance (KRACK). KRACK takes use of a flaw in WPA2 to trick victims into connecting to a malicious network by pretending to be a clone network. This allows the hacker to decipher a tiny bit of information that can later be combined to crack the encryption key. Despite this, WPA2 is still seen as being more secure than WEP or WPA since devices may be fixed.
The 3rd version of the Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol is known as WPA3. In 2018, the Wi-Fi Alliance released WPA3. New features for both personal and business usage were included with WPA3, such as:
Individualized data encryption: WPA3 registers a new device using a mechanism other than a shared password when connecting to a public network. WPA3 employs a Wi-Fi Device Provisioning Protocol (DPP) protocol that enables users to authorize devices on the network using Near Field Communication (NFC) tags or QR codes. In addition, WPA3 security switches from the existing 128-bit encryption to GCMP-256.
A wireless access point is connected to a network device. using the Simultaneous Authentication of Equals protocol, and then the two devices communicate to confirm authentication and the connection. Even if a user’s password is weak, WPA3 uses Wi-Fi DPP to give a more secure handshake.
Stronger brute force assault defense: WPA3 defends against offline password guesses by giving a user just one guess and requiring direct user interaction with the Wi-Fi equipment, meaning the user would have to be physically there whenever they wish to guess the password. Due to WPA2’s lack of privacy and built-in encryption on public open networks, brute force attacks pose a serious danger.
2019 saw the widespread availability of WPA3 devices, which are backward compatible with WPA2 devices.
Understanding your Wi-Fi encryption type is crucial for the security of your network. Older protocols are more prone to vulnerability than more recent ones, making them more likely to be the target of a hacking effort. Older protocols were created before it was completely known how hackers targeted routers, which is why this is the case. The more modern protocols are thought to provide the best Wi-Fi security since they have solved these attacks.
How to determine the Wi-Fi security level:
Unfortunately, there is no way to verify your Wi-security Fi’s on iOS. You may either use a computer or a phone to get into the router if you want to evaluate how secure your Wi-Fi is. You might need to consult the manual that comes with the router because each router might vary. You might also ask for help from your internet service provider if they installed the router.
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Criminals may steal your internet bandwidth, use your connection for illegal purposes, keep track of your online behavior, and even put harmful malware on your network if a router is left unlocked. Understanding the distinctions between security protocols and adopting the most advanced one your router can support—or updating it if it can’t—is, therefore, a key component of protecting your router. WEP is currently regarded as obsolete as a Wi-Fi encryption standard, and users should try to utilize more current protocols wherever feasible.
You may also do the following to strengthen router security:
Our comprehensive article on establishing a secure home network is available here. Use of a current antivirus program, such as Kaspersky Total Security, is one of the greatest methods to keep secure online. This works round-the-clock to defend you against malware, hackers, and viruses and contains privacy measures to shield you from all sides.