What is Wireless Protected Access (WPA)?

Wireless Protected Access or WPA is a more secure protocol than earlier WiFi authentication and encryption techniques. For example; WAP uses 128 bits for encryption and they are dynamic keys, which are constantly being recomputed and applied to secure the data stream. Furthermore, WPA uses a method of translating a plain English pass phrase of up to 133 characters into a encryption key. This makes configuring WPA very easy and very secure as a pass phrase is far more difficult to break than a simple password.

There are two forms of WPA, one designed for use by enterprises or large companies that can afford an authentication radius server, and another light weight version designed for personal use. The personal version of WPA is named WPA-PSK and it is actually more a simple authentication technique whereby a devise is configured prior to connecting to the WiFi LAN with a password. If the password matches then the device is granted access to the network. However, both methods of WPA use the same method of data encryption it is only in their methods of authentication that they differ.

WPA uses a technology called TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol), which takes the passphrase, along with the network SSID, and generates a unique encryption key for each wireless client. These keys constantly change so the flaws that existed in earlier security protocols such as WEP, whereby a snooper could intercept the keys are avoided, and this ensures the data remains private.

In today’s WiFi networks it is advisable to use WPA-2 to secure, authenticate and encrypt data.

Learn more about WPA.

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