WEP vs. WPA

Choosing the right security settings for your wireless network is very important, especially since hacking is so easy now. Free software tools are now readily available, making it trivial even for unsophisticated “script kids” to break into secure wireless networks. The first step is to secure your Wi-Fi network with a password, but its effectiveness is very low if the chosen security method is WEP . Passwords for Wi-Fi networks protected with WEP can usually be cracked in a matter of minutes. [1] WPA2 It is the recommended security method for wireless networks today.

Comparative graph

WEP versus WPA comparison table

WEP WPA
It represents Wired Equivalent Privacy Wi-Fi Protected Access
What is? A security protocol for wireless networks introduced in 1999 to provide data confidentiality comparable to a traditional wired network. A security protocol developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance in 2003 for use in protecting wireless networks; designed to replace the WEP protocol.
Methods By using an IEEE 802.11 wireless network security algorithm, it works to create a wireless network that is as secure as a wired network. As a temporary solution to WEP’s problems, WPA still uses WEP’s insecure RC4 stream cipher but provides additional security through TKIP.
Applications Wireless security through the use of an encryption key. Wireless security by using a password.
Authentication method Open System Authentication or Shared Key Authentication Authentication using a 64-digit hexadecimal key or an 8-63 character passcode.

WEP and WPA security options while connecting to a wireless network

Encryption on a Wi-Fi network

It is possible to “sniff” the data that is exchanged on a wireless network. This means that if the wireless network is “open” (no password required), a hacker can access any information transferred between a computer and the wireless router. Not having your Wi-Fi network password-protected also creates problems, such as hackers intruding on your Internet connection, slowing down your speed, or even illegally downloading copyrighted content.

Therefore, it is absolutely essential that a Wi-Fi network has a password. WEP and WPA are the two security methods that are almost universally supported by routers and the devices that connect to them, such as computers, printers, phones, or tablets. WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) was introduced when the 802.11 standard for Wi-Fi networks was released. Allows the use of a 64-bit or 128-bit key. However, researchers discovered vulnerabilities in WEP in 2001 and showed that it was possible to break into any WEP network using a brute force method to crack the key. Using WEP is not recommended.

WPA, which stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access, is a newer standard and is much more secure. The first iteration of the WPA protocol used the same encryption (RC4) as WEP, but added TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) to make it more difficult to crack the key. The next version, WPA2, replaced RC$ with AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and replaced TKIP with CCMP (Block Ciphered Counter Mode Message Authentication Message Authentication Code). This made WPA2 a better and more secure setup compared to WPA. WPA2 comes in two flavors: personal and enterprise.

Other Wi-Fi Security Best Practices

Choosing WPA2 is a good start, but there are other things you can do to make your Wi-Fi network even more secure. For example,

  • Do not broadcast SSID : The SSID is the name of the Wi-Fi network. By not broadcasting the SSID, the wireless network is “hidden”. It will still show up in network scans by devices, but they will only see it as “Unidentified Network”. When the network broadcasts its SSID (name), the hacker only has to crack the password. But when the network name is unknown, logging into the network will require the intruder to know not only the password but also the SSID.
  • Use a strong password : This one is obvious but deserves a mention because it’s so important. Computers are very powerful and cloud computing has made it very cheap and easy to rent extraordinarily large raw computing power. This makes brute force attacks possible, where the hacker tries every combination of letters and numbers until the key is cracked. A good password has the following characteristics:
    • is longer than 10 characters
    • use a healthy mix of characters: uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters like ^ *
    • not easily guessed, such as a birthday or the name of a family member or pet
  • Change the default router IP address – Virtually all wireless routers are preconfigured to use 192.168.1.1 as the router IP address in the network you create. There are some sophisticated exploits that use these common settings to transmit the infection to the router, thereby compromising not just one computer but all Internet traffic passing through the router from any device. It is recommended to change the IP address of the routers to something else, like 192.168.37.201.

More good practices are listed here.

References

  • WPA – Wikipedia
  • WEP – Wikipedia

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