Posted by: bhalley | 02/15/2012

Understanding Wireless Networks, Pt 3

Today’s post is final on the Wireless Networks and dealing with the different cipher types.  One of the first cipers was WEP and allowed for 40-bit and 128-bit keys.  The limits to this was you could have one or the other and not both.  Also, the key was in hexadecimal format (consists of numbers 0-9 and letters A-F).  This was quickly hacked so a new cipher had to be developed.  Enter TKIP.  TKIP provided better and stronger security but still had a vulnerability.  If your choice is WEP versus TKIP than the later is best.  It also allows for a pass phrase and not a hexadecimal code.  What this means is that instead of key of numbers and letters A-F, you could not use a phrase that is much easier to remember.  It was shown that TKIP had a problem that could allow someone to hack it so enter AES.  AES is the best use on your network if it is available.  It allows for a pass phrase and supports 128, 192, or 256 key strength.  I don’t want to get too technical about this as there are plenty of materials available on the web if you want to get more detail about just how this all works.

To quickly sum up what is the best way to go you should use at minimum a G wireless unit as this provides backwards compatibility but N provides for more bandwidth.  With encryption and cipher you want a unit that supports WPA or WPA2 for encryption, and AES or TKIP (at a minimum) for the cipher.  If the unit you have does not have this as a minimum, it is time to upgrade.

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