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Time: November 23rd, 2023
What is WPA ? WPA is a fundamental and time-tested method to safeguard wireless devices from attacks. In a world where wireless communication has become the norm, security presents an entirely different dimension.
Hence, the focus of security protection has shifted from enterprise networks to cloud and wireless security standards.
Wireless networks often pose security risks. For instance, 5G network slicing makes administrators vulnerable to attacks. However, since the early 21st century, several variations of WPA have been integrated into networks to protect data during transmission.
What is WPA: Definition and Explanation
WPA ( Wi-Fi Protected Access ) is a wireless network security protocol introduced in 2003 to address security vulnerabilities in the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption standard. Designed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to secure wireless network communication, WPA serves as an improvement and replacement for WEP.
WPA employs stronger encryption mechanisms, with the most common configuration being WPA-PSK (Pre-Shared Key). This implies that the Wi-Fi network uses a password shared by each network client. In comparison to WEP's 64-bit and 128-bit keys, WPA utilizes a longer key length of 256 bits , significantly enhancing security.
To enhance data transmission security, WPA introduced Message Integrity Check (MIC) and Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP). TKIP utilizes a per-packet key system, which is more secure than WEP's fixed-key system but was later replaced by the more robust Advanced Encryption Standard ( AES ).
Despite TKIP's improvements, due to its use of similar underlying mechanisms to WEP, it is susceptible to similar attacks (such as Chop-Chop and MIC key-recovery attacks). Consequently, in 2009, TKIP was replaced by the more secure CCMP (Counter Mode with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol).
Generally, people don't directly attack the WPA protocol; rather, they exploit the supplementary system introduced by WPA—Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)—to carry out attacks.
Overall, WPA is a relatively secure wireless network security protocol. However, with the passage of time, due to the emergence of stronger security attacks and technical vulnerabilities, some components and mechanisms have been replaced by more advanced and secure alternatives.
Further Explore: What are WPA2 and WPA3 ?
WPA2 and WPA3 are upgraded versions and evolutions of WPA , and they have higher security coefficients.
The second version is known as WPA2 , and it appeared at the end of 2004 and stayed in use for about 14 years till now. It appeared based on WEP and its weaknesses, with PSK or pre-shared key and AES or advanced encryption standard . Nevertheless, WPA2 was also vulnerable as it has been demonstrated by KRACK which allowed intruders to re-run keys and hijack victims networks.
WPA3 , as the successor to WPA2 , was launched in 2018, introducing more robust security. WPA3 incorporated the SAE (Simultaneous Authentication of Equals) protocol, replacing the PSK authentication method in WPA2. The SAE protocol improved the key authentication mechanism, addressing some of the vulnerabilities present in WPA2, such as KRACK attacks and brute force attacks.
WPA3 is divided into personal and enterprise versions, offering more security features. The personal version strengthens password security, while the enterprise version provides additional security measures for networks requiring higher levels of management and security.
WPA3 also introduced OWE (Opportunistic Wireless Encryption) authentication, enhancing security for open networks. OWE allows encryption of user data during connection to prevent unauthorized access to network data.
How to Check Which Network Security Protocol I Use?
  • On Windows 10:
Find the Wi-Fi connection on the taskbar and click on it.
Next, go to Details under the active WI-FI connection and then Properties.
Search for properties under which you will see the available Wi-Fi details.
At this point, search for Security Type, which indicates what is your security protocol.
  • On macOS :
Hold down the Option key.
Locate and click the Wi-Fi icon on the toolbar.
It would show the network parameters and your Wi-fi security type.
  • On Android:
In the settings of your Android phone.
Open the Wi-Fi category.
To obtain a connection summary for your router, click on it.
This will tell you the type of Wi-Fi security your connection uses. Your way to this interface will differ depending on your cell phone.
  • On iPhone:
However, it can’t be confirmed how secure is WI-FI inside iOS. You can assess the strength of your wireless security through a computer or by logging into your router using a phone.
In summary, the ultimate goal of WPA is to provide a more secure wireless network connection to safeguard users' data and privacy. This article explained “ what is WPA” , along with its upgraded versions WPA2 and WPA3 , hoping it was helpful to you.

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