There are a few encryptions available and this article will provide a complete overview of WEP vs. WPA vs. WPA2. In a Wi-Fi the most important thing is security. For any router, wifi security settings are always an essential key for providing security. Your router should be correctly set to achieve the highest level of protection. Until you secure your router, you’re vulnerable to people accessing information on your computer, using your Internet service for free, and potentially using your network to commit cybercrimes.
The security settings and password play an important role in the security of Wi-Fi. So, if you have the security settings tight and the password you set is hard to predict then you have secured your wi-fi up to a great limit.
What Is Encryption?
Encryption is the process of encoding a message or information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it and those who are not authorized cannot. In terms of providing security to wi-fi, you should be very careful when choosing the level of encryption.
As you go wireless, you should encrypt the information you send over your wireless network, to prevent the attack by nearby hackers. Encryption scrambles the information you send into a code so that it’s not accessible to others. Using encryption is the most effective way to secure your network from intruders.
So there are three levels of security which comes under three types of encryption. These three types of encryption are WEP, WPA, WPA2. While setting the encryption level for your wifi router you need to be careful when setting the encryption level from these three options. You have to decide and ensure which one will be best suited for you.
Generally, when people buy a router after doing the initial configuration they do not secure it. They usually don’t pay attention to the importance of the acronym that lies next to the security protocol which makes the great difference.
Today’s home network includes a wide range of wireless devices, from computers and phones to IP Cameras, smart TVs, etc. So by taking basic steps you can secure your home network which will help you to protect your devices as well as your information from which you can’t compromise.
When we go wireless, it generally requires connecting an internet “access point” like a cable or DSL modem to a wireless router, which sends a signal through the air. Any device within the range can pull the signal from the air and access the internet.
If you take certain precautions, anyone nearby can’t use your network and your data will be secured. If an unauthorized person uses your network to commit a crime or send spam, the activity could be traced back to your account and call for police action.
When you become aware of securing the network then you have to understand the difference between different security settings which will allow you to better understand about offering anyone access to the wifi base station.
One more thing that should be noted is that the wifi security protocols have undergone several changes and every new upgrade brings along the necessary changes required. So make sure you are using the latest protocols.
After entering the required IP address in your browser you can change these settings which will enable you to change the router’s settings. For example, you can enter ‘10.0.0.10’ and get access to the default login page.
The wireless protocols are WEP, WPA, WPA2 which serves the same purpose of encryption but are also different at the same time.
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)
WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) was the first protocol used in the late 90s. It was developed for wireless networks and approved as a Wi-Fi security standard in September 1999. It was expected that WEP would offer the same security level as wired networks. However, it should not be used nowadays as it has serious security weaknesses with a lot of well-known security issues, which is also easy to break and hard to configure. This makes easy for hackers to get information.
This is the most widely used wifi protocol currently for security which is used across the globe. But if you are using the updated router you should avoid this as it has a weak security level. But this is the first option that you get when you are setting the wifi security level.
Now it is a function of age, backward and compatibility. When the protocol was released initially, it wasn’t as strong because of the US not allowing a device to set anything beyond 64-bit encryption. Later the US lifted the ban that they could double the encryption level to 128 bits. 128-bit remains the industry standard to date.
Everything has to go in synchronization with technology. When it comes to WEP standard, there were many flaws that kept popping out even after an increase in size and security measures.
That’s why as computer power increased, it became important to regularly upgrade the security settings. Despite regular attempts to keep it a standard, several flaws have been found to date. Hence other new protocols have taken its place.
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)
WPA is known as WiFi protected access. It was introduced to remove the old not-so-secure WEP standard. None of the flaws which plagued WEP were present in WPA.
In 2003, this standard was formally implemented just a year before when the older protocol was abandoned. The most widely seen WPA configuration is WPA-PSK where PSK stands for Pre-Shared Key. Most often referred to as WPA Personal and the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol or TKIP for encryption. WPA Enterprise uses an authentication server for keys and certificates generation.
WEP has keys of 128-bit encryption, while the WPA had 256-bit encryption.
Here the majority of the changes happened were of message integrity checks which would basically determine if anyone who was trying to gain access had captured or changed the packets that pass between the access point and the client alongside the temporal key integrity protocol (TKIP).
TKIP was like a core component of WPA which provides more security than WEP which uses a fixed key system. TKIP dispatches a per-packet key system.
Later on, it was found that WPA had a few vulnerabilities to things like an intrusion like its previous protocol WEP. Meanwhile, the way in which a threat was found for WPA is a process in which there is no direct attack made on WPA but attacks are made on a supplementary system that came along with WPA and it was made such that it’s easy to link devices to modern access points.
WiFi Protected Access II (WPA2)
In 2006, the earlier security protocol WPA was officially retired and got replaced by a more secure version WPA2. It becomes important to upgrade the other systems as well when the computing power increases that are related to a computer system.
WPA2 implements the latest security standards, especially for data encryption with AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), which is a strong encryption algorithm, and CCMP which means Counter Cipher Mode with Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol. These new levels of security replaced TKIP.
The TKIP is still preserved in WPA2 as it acts as a fallback system and also for the interoperability with WPA.
Currently, the protocols of WPA2 are good enough. But it also possesses just one vulnerability which is that to attack and seek the information and harm the devices connected the attacker would require to already have access to the wifi base station so as to gain access to certain keys.
There are no flaws in the systems when it comes to home security. There is a bit of similarity in WPA2 and WEP security flaws, but lots of efforts is required in cracking the WPA/WPA2. It can take over 2-14 hours of continuous effort to get over it and hide in the system. Using the WPA2 protocol means that when any device tries to establish a connection to your wireless network, it will be asked to enter the security key or password to connect to the network.
Most wireless routers allow you to select WPA2 during the setup process.