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Switching to WPA2 Wireless Encryption

OK, after reading the first article, you’ve downloaded the WPA2 encryption patch for Windows XP — or you’ve installed XP Service Pack 3, which includes the patch.

How do you switch to it? It’s easy.

First, we need to get to the router to make the change there. The procedure will vary by brand, but should be fairly obvious. The steps are to:

  1. Use your web browser to log into your router
  2. Select the Wireless Security settings tab
    On the Linksys WRT54G, that’s Wireless < Wireless Security
  3. Now, change the Security mode to WPA2 Personal (the name varies by manufacturer)
  4. Then, change the WPA Algorithm (a specific version of the encryption method). My options with my Linksys WRT54G are AES and TKIP+AES. Which should you use? If you have both WPA and WPA2 devices on your network, pick TKIP+AES.
  5. Change your Shared Key if you want to (the Shared Key is the codephrase/password that will give access)
  6. Save the settings

Again, these steps and the data locations in the router will vary by brand, but once you log into the router, just think what you’re doing and you should find the right places. If all else fails, go to your router manufacturer’s web site (e.g., download the manual for your router. The manuals give good instructions for setting the router security.

Once you’ve made the changes on the router, it’s time to make the corresponding changes in Windows XP.

As you can see below, before upggrading to WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2), I was running WPA-PSK (WiFi Protected Access – PreSharedKey) with TKIP encryption.

(click on the image for a larger version)

Interestingly enough, the wording of the Windows options does not match that of the Linksys router. Where the router offers "Security Mode" options of WPA2 Personal and WPA2 Enterprise, Windows XP offers "Network Authentication" options ofWPA2 and WPA2-PSK (PreShared Key).

I picked WPA2 Personal on the router and WPA2-PSK in Windows.

(click on the image for a larger version)

(click on the image for a larger version)

Then, for the data encryption setting, I picked AES. AES isn’t available if you choose WPA (instead of WPA2).

If your router will support WPA2, pick AES on your Windows computer (it’s better encryption than is TKIP) and pick either AES on your router (if all your wireless devices will support WPA2) or pick TKIP+AES on the router if you can only do WPA on your other computer(s) and wireless printers.

If you have wireless devices that will only do WEP, it’s time to get rid of them. WEP can not co-exist with WPA and WPA2 on your network. Upgrade that old wireless printer to a new one that does WPA or WPA2. If your wireless network card or built-in wireless only does WEP, it’s time to upgrade them.

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