Wireless Encryption Mechanisms: One of the big concerns with wireless networks is the fact that the data is vulnerable when being transmitted over the air.
Without proper protection, the transmitted data can be sniffed and captured easily by an attacker. To prevent or at least mitigate these issues, encryption is a layer of security that is included in most, if not all, wireless products.
The following are some of the more commonly used wireless encryption and authentication protocol in use:
- Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is the oldest and arguably the weakest of the available encryption protocols. The WEP standard was introduced as the initial solution to wireless security but was quickly found to be flawed and highly vulnerable.
The WEP protocol is still regularly encountered as an option on many wireless access points and devices but should be avoided in favor of other options or upgrading hardware to support newer standards where possible. However, if these options are not realistic at the time, then it can suffice as a short term solution but should be combined with other security technologies just in case.
- Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) was the successor to WEP and was intended to address many of the problems that plagued WEP. In many areas it succeeded and made for a much tougher security protocol. WPA uses Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) and message integrity code (MIC).
- WPA2 is the successor to WPA and was intended to address the problems with WPA. WPA2 is much stronger and uses tougher encryption in the form of AES and CCMP (Counter Mode with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol). The standard also comes in a version that uses stronger systems such as Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP), TKIP, and AES (With Longer Keys).
- WPA2 Enterprise is a version that incorporates EAP standards as a way to strengthen security as well as scale the system up to large enterprise environment. WPA2, as an enterprise solution, uses RADIUS or similar technology to centralize and manage access to the wireless network.