I answered a question from someone who was using WEP (the so-called "Wired Equivalent Privacy") encryption on their wireless network. They were considering changing to WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). The real answer is that they need to change to the second generation of WPA — WPA2.
The biggest question in their mind was whether they’d have to change the wireless passphrases on all their computers (quick answer: yes).
Why change? WEP is old, way, way old in computer terms. When it was first released, it was effective.
But, by 2004, second-generation WEP-cracking tools were widely available. In an article, SmallNetBuilder reported on a 2005 demonstration by a team of FBI agents who were able to crack a 128 bit WEP key in about three minutes.
WPA replaced WEP as the choice for encryption. Then, it fell prey to cracking techniques, too.
Even more worrisome, increased computing power made the tools available to anyone who really wanted to crack a neighbor’s network. Now, we don’t have to worry about a bad guy, but also the neighbor’s kid…
WPA2 subsequently replaced WPA, and is still the best we’ve got for home use.
If you’re running Windows Vista or Windows XP with Service Pack 3, you’ve got WPA2 drivers already installed in Windows. You just have to select it on your router and in Windows.
My Dell Inspiron refers to WPA Enterprise and WPA Personal PSK (pre-shared key). It does not make reference to WPA2, although that’s what it’s using — it has to be WPA2, since that’s what my router is doing.
My router offers WPA Enterprise, WPA Personal, WPA2 Enterprise and WPA2 Personal. For WPA2 Personal, it offers AES encryption and TKIP+AES, which is a better choice.
Is WPA2 only for Windows? No way — even my old 1st generation iPhone did WPA2, which meant it could connect and work with my wireless network.
- Complete list of wireless articles
- Configuring the Wireless Router
- Router Security — Wired & Wireless Routers
- Home Networking — Wired + Wireless Connections
- Home Networking — Protecting Wired Computers from Wireless
- Home Networking — Protecting Wireless Computers from Wired Computers
- Wireless Security Issues
- Security versus the Open Wireless Network
- Improving Your Wireless Security
- Switching to WPA2 Wireless Encryption