What is WPA?

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WPA is an abbreviation for Wi-Fi Protected Access. Basically, WPA is a security feature for people who use computers that are fitted with wireless Wi-Fi connection. WPA is an improved version of the initial Wi Fi security features referred to as Wired Equivalent Privacy -WEP and it is hoped that it will replace it. WPA is harmonized with the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2), a security feature that is being developed. Actually, it is a WPA2 subset. WPA2 offers encryption and secures data broadcasts for computer networks that are wireless. It came into the market in 2004 and network devices developed after 2006 are compatible with WPA2.

Compared to WEP, WPA comes with a much complicated data encryption and allows for authentication of users, a feature that is perceived as insufficient in WEP.  Though WEP is seen to be useful on residential areas, it is largely ineffective when it comes to the corporate environment. This is because the flow of information in corporate is large with potential loopholes for discovery of encryption keys easy.

How WPA addresses the Gaps in WEP

Both WPA2 and WPA were designed to address the security gaps exhibited by WEP. WPA uses the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol method of encryption. This method includes a per-packet synchronizing function, a rekeying approach, an expanded initializing vector and a text integrity check to address the gaps in WEP. It also provides enhanced user verification and relies on s central verification server to validate each user. Residential users whose access points only use WPA may operate on specialized home mode where they only need to key in a password to connect an access point. Once the password is entered, it triggers verification as well as the TKIP encryption. However, WPA2’s setup feature called Wi-Fi Protected Setup is vulnerable and easy to avoid. Overall, its security features are much stronger than those of WPA and WEP.

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