Increase your WiFi security using these protocols
Sometimes, routers have unsafe configurations that make them susceptible to malware attacks. For instance, there are security failures in the operating system, the firmware, the security algorithm and the web applications of routers. Attackers can use these vulnerabilities as entry points to compromise your network. In fact, there are some tools and websites that cybercriminals use to find vulnerable routers and get exploits for their attacks. Learn to identify if your encryption algorithm is working to protect you from intruders.
What are WiFi security protocols and how they work?
Basically, a WiFi security protocol is data encryption to prevent data fraud perpetrated by hackers. Let's take a simple example of how it works. Think about a letter you don’t want anyone else to read except the final recipient, but you need to send it through a messenger. So, you fold the letter and put it in a closed envelope to keep the peepers away.
Using an encryption algorithm works very similarly to the letter example. In this case, plain text is transformed into encrypted text while transported over the networks. When this data arrives at its final destination, it goes back to its original form: plain text. If you still want to go deeper into this topic you may want to take a look how routing algorithms work.
Most commons WiFi security protocols
- WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy): Used to be one of the most popular. However, became one of the most attacked and vulnerable.
- WPA (WiFi Protected Access): Provides better security than WEP but still vulnerable to attacks.
- WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access 2): Although it has specific vulnerabilities, it is the safest option for WiFi connections so far.
Advantages and disadvantages of WPA2 encryptions
WPA2 provides two types of encryption focused on network security: Temporal Key Integrity Protocol, also known as TKIP, and Advanced Encryption Standard or AES.
Both encryptions offer different levels of security, so it is necessary to know what the differences between AES and TKIP are to choose the most appropriate.
Let's start with TKIP. This protocol was the first one to be used to increase the security of WPA, also to cover the deficiencies of the WEP algorithm.
Although the TKIP helped protect networks for a while, it is now unsafe and is not recommended to establish a connection.
On the other hand, we have the AES, which is considered the most efficient encryption system to stop intruders. But this does not mean that the AES is unbreakable since it has shown some vulnerabilities under a brute-force attack.
What is the best WiFi security protocol then?
In theory, your WiFi connection should be safe using a WPA2-AES algorithm. However, you must consider how old the device you are using to link the router is.
By default, all routers produced after 2006 use WPA2 but this does not mean that they always use AES encryption.
The reason is that some old devices still need TKIP encryption. In this case, the router uses the WPA-PSK connection which essentially is TKIP. Therefore, you must check what type of connection your device requires to avoid vulnerabilities.
We know this can be a bit confusing. In the end, it's all about finding the safest way to connect your devices to the network.
To simplify things, we'll show you the most common options that you will find to link your router and some recommendations to use them:
|Open||Low||You may want to share your WiFi with everyone who comes to your house. If so, avoid setting up an open WiFi connection. You never know if other people in the neighborhood will take advantage of this to do criminal activities using your connection. And guess who's going to be the guilty one for the police? Always use a password to access the router and only share it with people you trust.|
|WEP||Low||As we mentioned before, WEP is one of the most insecure protocols and it's better to avoid it.|
|WPA-PSK (TKPI)||Low||This is the oldest and most basic version of the WAP protocol. Now it has been replaced by WAP2 to improve its security.|
|WPA-PSK (AES)||Medium||Like the previous algorithm, this one uses the WPA platform. However, security is improving with AES encryption. This option does not make much sense because if your device supports AES, it will support WPA2.|
|WPA2-PSK (TKPI)||Medium||Although WPA2 is present, TKIP encryption is not always secure. Use it only if your device does not support AES.|
|WPA2-PSK (AES)||Good||This is the most reliable option and the one that you should use. It has an updated encryption protocol. Depending on your device, sometimes you'll find it as WPA2 or WPA2-PSK.|
|WPAWPA2-PSK (TKPI/AES)||Good||If your device is old (manufactured before 2006), this option is ok. This combined algorithm offers compatibility with most new and old devices. Anyway, you must consider that it can be under attack through the WPA and TKPI windows.|
The table shows the security level while using different algorithms.
In conclusion, the best you can do to reduce potential attacks to your WiFi connection is to avoid devices manufactured before 2006.