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Differences Between WPA and WPA2 in 2021 Updated

Filed in Education by on May 18, 2021

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Differences between WPA and WPA2: WPA and WPA2 are security tools that guide one when making use of the internet. In other words, as long as you make use of wireless internet connections in your computer, these security tools are essential. 

Also, though these security encrypted tools aim at effective wireless browsing, they differ extensively. Thus, this article aims at discussing these differences. Differences Between WPA and WPA2

What You Need to Know About WPA and WPA2

What is WPA?

WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. It’s a security standard for users of computing devices. Also, it’s equipped with wireless internet connections. WPA was developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Also, it was to provide more sophisticated data encryption.

Additionally, it is a better user authentication than Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). WPA’s encryption method is the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP). And this includes a per-packet mixing function. Plus, a message integrity check, an extended initialization vector, and a re-keying mechanism.

Also, WPA provides strong user authentication based on 802.1x. And the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). It depends on a central authentication server, such as RADIUS, to authenticate each user.

Types of WPA

There are two types of WPA that cater to different users. These are WPA-Personal and WPA-Enterprise.

WPA-Personal

This type is primarily used for small office use and for personal use at home. Also, it doesn’t require an authentication server. A 256-bit authentication key is used for all wireless devices connected.

WPA-Enterprise

As the name suggests, it is primarily used in large businesses. A Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS) authentication server is applied for automatic key generation and authentication.

However, in a nutshell, WPA has discrete modes for enterprise users and for personal use. Also, the enterprise mode, WPA-EAP, uses more stringent 802.1x authentication. And this is with the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP).

However, the personal mode, WPA-PSK, uses preshared keys for simpler implementation and management. This is among consumers and small offices.

Pros and Cons of WPA

What You Need to Know About WPA and WPA2

As an interim solution, the WPA is not perfect. Thus, it still has a lot of room for improvement. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of using WPA security.

Advantages

WPA, unlike its predecessor, radically provides a more secure wireless security. Also, it has additional authentication instead of just the basic encryption provided in WEP.

Additionally, it incorporates the RADIUS servers and allows the administration, logging, and auditing. Also, it provides backward compatible support to devices that are not upgraded.

Disadvantages

However, older firmware and operating systems cannot be upgraded to support WPA. WPA software must be present in computers, access points, and wireless adapters for WPA to function. Also, devices such as computers and routers and other equipment older than 2003 are not upgradable.

Also, in whatever version of WPA, for a connection to happen, the wireless access points and network clients must have the same configuration. This is the same as the old WEP security standard. Also, denials of Service attacks can still happen even with WPA.

What is WPA2 all about?

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 was primarily made as an upgrade from the previous security protocols, namely WEP and WPA. Also, its standard included the full security requirements. And this was in line with the security standards of IEEE 802.11i.

Also, this upgrade delivers more secure network access control and stronger data protection. Upon approval of the IEEE 802.11i specification in July 2004, the WPA2 was released based on the Robust Security Network (RSN) mechanism.

WPA2 is that which replaced WPA. However, WPA2 requires testing and certification by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Also, it implements the mandatory elements of IEEE 802.11i. Additionally, it includes mandatory support for CCMP, an AES-based encryption mode. Its certification began in September 2004.

Types of WPA2

Two versions of WPA2 are available today. One is WPA2-Personal. This safeguards the network access by providing a set-up password. And it does the same to the WPA2-Enterprise. Also, on the other hand, authenticates network users via a server.

Pros and Cons of WPA2

Advantages

The use of WPA2 gives Wi-Fi users a higher level of security. And this is so that data shared over the network can only be accessed by authorized users.

Also, it delivers more secure network access control and stronger data protection.

Disadvantages

The use of WPA2 also entails poor performance in your network connection. However, this is attributed to the additional overhead load process of encryption and decryption. But this is a small price to pay for a secure connection.

Also, another disadvantage of WPA2 is the amount of processing power that it needs in order to protect your network. Thus, this translates to a direct need for more powerful hardware, or one will suffer a reduction in network performance for heavily used networks.

Additionally, this is an issue with older access points that were designed and built prior to WPA2 and only implemented WPA2 via a firmware upgrade.

Some Differences between WPA and WPA2

Some Differences between WPA and WPA2

The following are some of the differences between WPA and WPA2:

WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2 are two types of security measures. Also, they can be used to protect wireless networks. WPA uses TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) while WPA2 is capable of using TKIP or the more advanced AES algorithm.

Furthermore, WPA was created to replace WEP in securing wireless networks. This is when it was found out that serious flaws made it very easy to gain access. However, despite being much harder to crack, it was still possible with the use of more advanced tools.

However, WPA2 addresses this problem with the introduction of the AES algorithm. Also, theoretically, passphrases created with the AES algorithm are virtually uncrackable.

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Finally

In summary, one may ask, which is reliable or recommendable? From the above discourse, it’s important to take note. You should use WPA2 if you are capable. This is because it provides the maximum protection regardless of whether you fully need that much protection.

However, the only time that using WPA would be sufficient is when your access point is not capable of supporting WPA2. Furthermore, you could also fall back to WPA if your access point routinely experiences high loads. And when the network speeds suffer from the utilization of WPA2.

However, for establishments where security is of utmost importance, buying better access points is the only option.

CSN Team.

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