Hi, Mi Fans!

Nowadays everyone is using WIFi networks and also WiFi routers for a hassle-free wireless data service. As wireless network technologies have evolved, so there are some of the wireless security protocols for securing them.

In this thread, we are going to learn about Wifi Security Protocols

Introduction


Wireless local area networks (WLANs) have become popular as they are fast, flexible cost effective and easy to use. But there are some challenges of security and for IT administrators the choice of security protocol is a critical issue.

As a whole, there are majorly 3 types of security protocols which are widely used:

1. WEP( Wired Equivalent Privacy)
2. WPA( Wi-Fi Protected Access)
3. WPA2/802.11i(Wi-Fi Protected Access, Version 2)

Let’s try knowing them one by one

1. WEP( Wired Equivalent Privacy)

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a security algorithm for IEEE 802.11 wireless networks. Introduced as part of the original 802.11 standards ratified in 1997 and its intention was to provide data confidentiality comparable to that of a traditional wired network i.e.to prevent hackers from snooping on wireless data as it was transmitted between clients and access points.

Working:
In the WEP network encryption security method, wireless stations must use a pre-shared key of 40 bit and 104 bit to connect to your network. WEP uses the RC4 stream cipher for authentication and encryption.

Disadvantages:
  • By maintaining a shared WEP key it has disabled a high percentage of wireless networks
  • WEP has a problem as the shared key secret is held by another person the private key which becomes public key after transfers.


2. WPA( Wi-Fi Protected Access)

The numerous flaws in WEP revealed that there is an urgent need for an alternative. That’s why WPA( Wi-Fi Protected Access) comes into the system.
In 2003, the Wi-Fi Alliance released WPA as an interim standard, while the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) worked to develop a more advanced, long-term replacement for WEP. WPA has discrete modes for enterprise users and for personal use. The enterprise mode, WPA-EAP, uses more stringent 802.1x authentication with the Extensible Authentication Protocol, or EAP. The personal mode, WPA-PSK, uses preshared keys for simpler implementation for consumers and small offices. Enterprise mode requires the use of an authentication server.

Working:

WPA is also based on the RC4 cipher.It introduced several enhancements to encryption like the use of the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP)- an encryption method of WPA.This protocol contains a set of functions to improve wireless LAN security: the use of 256-bit keys, per-packet key mixing and generating of a unique key for each packet automatic broadcast of updated keys, a message integrity check, a larger IV size (48 bits) and mechanisms to reduce IV reuse.



Disadvantages:
  • Older firmware usually will not be upgraded to support it.
  • Incompatible with older operating systems such as Windows 95.
  • Remains vulnerable to Denial of Service attacks.
3. WPA2/802.11i(Wi-Fi Protected Access, Version 2)

As the successor to WPA, the WPA2 standard was ratified by the IEEE in 2004 as 802.11i. Like its predecessor, WPA2 also offers enterprise and personal modes. Although WPA2 still has vulnerabilities it is considered the most secure wireless security standard available.
Working:
WPA2 replaces the RC4 cipher and TKIP with two stronger encryption and authentication mechanisms like the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Counter Mode with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol (CCMP)Also meant to be backwards-compatible, WPA2 supports TKIP as a fallback if a device cannot support CCMP.

Disadvantages:
Using WPA2 decrease the performance of network connections due to the extra processing load of encryption and decryption.

Conclusion

Among the three, WPA2 is the most secure technology that is used in the wireless communication.The WPA and WPA2 are not easy to hack when compared to WEP protocol.The security of your router heavily depends on the password you set. WPA and WPA2 let you use passwords of up to 63 characters. Following Key Points need to remember:

  • WPA2 is the enhanced version of WPA
  • WPA only supports TKIP encryption while WPA2 supports AES
  • Theoretically, WPA2 is not hackable while WPA is
  • WPA2 needs more processing power than WPA

Thread credit goes to soumyajit_pal
Acknowledgements - Google, Wikipedia, Journals, Google Image