Wireless Network Encryption Types

There are various encryption types to ensure that no unauthorized person can read the data packets that are exchanged in a wireless network or gain access to the network.

Wireless LAN (WLAN) Encryption Types: 

WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy):

WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy. WEP standard uses of the RC4 encryption algorithm, originally with a key length of 40 bits, later also with 104 bits. Often, the length is declared as 64 bits or 128 bits, depending on whether the 24 bits of the initialization vector are included or not. WEP is a weak wireless encryption protocol and easy to crack. It has holes that are easily exploitable by even a novice attacker. However if this is only option you have, then do use this.

WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access):

WPA was created to improve on or replace the flawed WEP encryption. WPA provides much stronger encryption than WEP and addresses a number of WEP weaknesses.

TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol).

TKIP is key management protocol defined in the WPA standard uses the same encryption algorithm as WEP, but     eliminates its weakness.TKIP works in conjunction with WEP and institutes a longer key, 128-bits, as well as generate a new key for every data packet to make it exponentially more secure than WEP alone.Because a, attacks against these keys are in vain. TKIP is used together with WPA-PSK.

AES (Advanced Encryption Standard):

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is the cipher system used by RSN. It is the equivalent of the RC4 algorithm used by WPA. However the encryption mechanism is much more complex and does not suffer from the problems associated with WEP. AES is a block cipher, operating on blocks of data 128bits long.

CCMP (CCM Mode Protocol):

Counter Mode with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol or CCMP (CCM Mode Protocol) is the security protocol used by AES. It is the equivalent of TKIP in WPA. CCMP computes a Message Integrity Check (MIC) using the well known, and proven, Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code (CBC-MAC) method. Changing even one bit in a message produces a totally different result.  The encryption takes place according to AES and is stronger than the RC4 encryption of the WEP standard.

Messages are encrypted using a secret key (128bits) and a 128bit block of data. The encryption process is complex and the end result is encryption that is much harder to break than even WPA.

Filed Under: Wireless Security

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