Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) was a widely used Wi-Fi security protocol until recent times. However, this protocol had issues when increasing computing power. Thus, it was necessary to upgrade or replace systems that rely on WEP. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a protocol that was introduced to overcome the limitations of WEP. WPA2 is a newer version of WPA.
Key Areas Covered
Authentication, Encryption, Wi-Fi Security, WPA, WPA2
What is WPA
WPA was a replacement to overcome the issues in WEP standard. WPA is implemented on wireless network interface cards designed for WEP via firmware upgrades. However, it is an extensive and difficult process to do modifications on Wireless Access Points (APs).
WPA mostly implements the IEEE 802.11i standard. The common WPA configuration is WPA-PSK (Pre Shared Key). The previous WEP used 64 bit or 128-bit encryption keys. However, WPA uses 256-bit keys for every packet. It avoids the attacks compared to WEP. Furthermore, WPA contains a Message Integrity Check to avoid modifying and resending of data packets. It also includes the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP). Moreover, it is secure per packet key system to verify the integrity of the packets.
What is WPA2
WPA2 is a replacement of WPA. It implements mandatory elements of IEEE 802.11i. It also allows users to move from one Access Point to another on the same network without re-authentication. Therefore, it supports seamless roaming.
WPA2 includes mandatory supports for Counter Cipher Mode with Authentication Code Protocol (AES) and Chaining Message Protocol (CCMP) based encryption mode. AEC contains three symmetric block ciphers. Each encrypts and decrypts data in blocks of 128 bits using 128-,192- and 256- bit keys. Furthermore, CCMP allows only authorized network users to receive data. Therefore, it improves data confidentiality. The cipher block chaining message authentication code helps to maintain message integrity.
Difference Between WPA and WPA2
WPA is a security protocol developed by Wi-Fi Alliance to secure wireless computer networks. In contrast, WPA2 is a new security protocol, which is better than WPA.
Authentication and Encryption
The main difference between WPA and WPA2 is the authentication and encryption. WPA2 provides stronger authentication and encryption when compared to WPA.
While WPA does not require more powerful hardware, WPA2 requires powerful hardware to avoid lower network performance. Hence, this is another major difference between WPA and WPA2.
More importantly, WPA2 is a newer version than WPA.
Moreover, one other difference between WPA and WPA2 is that WPA2 has a fast encryption speed than WPA.
Also, security is another difference between WPA and WPA2. WPA2 is more secure than WPA.
WPA and WPA2 are two protocols to secure wireless networks. The main difference between WPA and WPA2 is that WPA2 provides stronger authentication and encryption than WPA2 using CCMP and AES modes/ algorithms. In brief, advanced encryption does not affect the performance of the network in WPA2, but requires powerful hardware than WPA.
1. “Wi-Fi Protected Access.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Jan. 2019, Available here.