Major WiFi Security Protocols – Overview
Wi-Fi is an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Millions of people across the world depend on Wi-Fi at home and work to coordinate their activities, shop, bank, and stay connected.
Therefore, securing WiFi networks is of paramount importance.
It’s for this reason that security protocols have been constantly developed to safeguard the Wi-Fi standard since its inception.
These security protocols include WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WPA3, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
In addition to deterring hackers from accessing your network, wireless security protocols encrypt the data being transmitted from your network to another network.
Wi-Fi is not safe as wired connections, but most of the problems have since been addressed.
Wired connections send data between two points, which are linked using a LAN cable.
On the other hand, Wi-Fi transmits data in all directions to every device connected to your network and within range.
So let’s look at some of the wireless security protocols available today.
Some of The Wireless Security Protocols Available Today Include:
1. WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)
WEP was designed in 1997, and it was the first wireless security protocol to be rolled out to the masses. It has now become obsolete, but you can find it on older devices.
WEP uses a data encoding structure that is based on a mix of system and user-generated key values.
However, it’s widely known that WEP is the least secure wireless security protocol because hackers have come up with reverse-engineering techniques to crack its encryption.
2. WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
WPA was designed to deal with the issues present in the WEP security protocol. WPA includes new features such as PSK (Pre-Shared Key) and TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol).
TKIP is a dynamic 128-bit key that’s harder to crack compared to the static, unchanging key in WEP. WPA has also introduced MIC (Message Integrity Check), which scans for any modified packets usually sent by hackers.
3. WPA 2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2)
WPA2 was introduced in 2004, and it brought noteworthy changes and more features to wireless security. WPA 2 replaced TKIP with CCMP (Counter Mode Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol), a far superior encoding tool.
WPA2 has been the industry standard for wireless security, and the Wi-Fi Alliance had stated then that all Wi-Fi-ready devices made in the future have to use WPA2.
There are two versions of WPA 2:
WPA2-PSK requires that a user input a single passcode to access a Wi-Fi network. It’s generally acknowledged that one Wi-Fi password is enough so long as you trust those using your Wi-Fi.
Problems can arise if your Wi-Fi login credentials fall into the wrong hands. This is why the WPA2 security protocol is often used in public Wi-Fi networks or residential Wi-Fi networks.
To encode a network using WPA2-PSK, you provide your access point (router) with a Plain-English password between 8 and 63 characters long rather than an encryption key.
Using CCMP, the password and the network SSID (Service Set Identifier) can create encryption keys for each device connected to your network.
WPA2-Enterprise needs a RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) server to verify network user’s access. The actual verification procedure is based on the 802.1X program.
You need a couple of components to make WPA-Enterprise functional. However, you have all the hardware you need if you already have spare server space and access points (routers).
6. WPA 3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3)
In over 14 years since the inception of WPA2, WPA3 is now rolling out significant changes to wireless security. Some of the notable changes include:
- Additional protection for passwords.
- Personalized encryption for public and private Wi-Fi networks.
- Extra security for enterprise Wi-Fi networks.
There are two versions of WPA 3:
To enhance the effectiveness of PSK (Pre-Shared Key), WPA3-PSK offers additional security by improving the verification process.
One strategy to do this is using SAE (Simultaneous Authentication of Equals) to initiate brute-force attacks that are difficult for hackers.
WPA3-PSK requires interaction from users on each verification attempt, thereby limiting persons attempting to bypass the verification process.
WPA3-Enterprise comprises of some new benefits but overall minor modifications with regard to security compared to WPA2-Enterprise.
One new benefit of WPA3-Enterprise is a requirement for server certificate authentication to be set up to confirm the server’s identity to which a device on a Wi-Fi network is connected.
Follow the steps here to find out the security type of your wifi
To sum it all up, Wi-Fi has become an essential aspect of our day-to-day lives. As a result, it needs to be secured to prevent users from losing their data to hackers.
It’s for this reason that the Wi-Fi Alliance has been inventing new security protocols to protect Wi-Fi users.