Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2): An overview

Generally used on Wi-Fi wireless networks, the WPA2 or also known as Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, is a technology for the security of your system. WPA2 was developed from the technology of WPA and designed to replace the previous and less secured WEP.

Since 2006, it has been used in every hardware of Wi-Fi. It is built on the standard technology for data encryption of the IEEE 802.11i. When enabled with the most tenacious option for encryption, everybody else in the network will be able to detect the traffic. However, this traffic will be mixed up with the latest encryption standards.

The differences between WPA2, WEP, and WPA

These three might seem confusing at first because of their seeming similarities. They could all seem to be the same that you might think that you can just choose one and let it take care of protecting your network. Here’s a simple explanation of how they’re different from each other.


This grants security, which is equivalent to a circuited connection. Considered the least secure among the three, this uses radio waves to broadcast messages that are very easy to crack.

The reason for this is the WEP exclusively uses one encryption key for all data packets. In just a brief period, an attacker can effortlessly locate the key by using automated software. This is also the reason why most users ward off this option.


The WPA is an upgraded version of WEP. It makes use of the method called TKIP encryption. This scramble or mixes up the encryption code key and makes sure that during the trade of data, it won’t be altered.

The WPA2 has higher levels when it comes to securing a network as it uses a much stronger encryption process called AES. This is how it’s different from WPA.

You have to understand that there are different types of keys for WPA2 security. One of them is the Pre-Shared WPA2 Key. This makes use of keys that consist of 64 hexadecimal numbers. Usually, this is used in most home networks.

Establishing your home network using WPA2

If you’re planning to establish a home network and you want to use WPA2, you generally have two encryption methods to choose from. First is the AES, which stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. The second is TKIP, also known as the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol.

There are many combinations administrators can choose from for home routers. Check out the list below:

  • WPA-TKIP (WPA with TKIP) - by default, this is for old models of routers that do handle WPA2.
  • WPA-AES (WPA with AES) - only a few clients used this mode since AES first got introduced before the standard of WPA2 was completed.
  • WPA2-AES (WPA2 with AES) - this is the default and recommended choice if you have a newer or the latest router with which all clients cater to AES.
  • WPA2-AES/TKIP (WPA2 with AES and TKIP) - with this combination, both of these settings should be activated by your routers. This applies in the event that any of their clients don’t support AES. This is important because although every WPA2-capable client handles AES, the majority of WPA clients don’t do this.

The limitations of WPA2

Most routers today cater to WPA2 as well as a different feature called the Wi-Fi Protected Setup. WPS is primarily designed to streamline the setup process of your home security. However, there are some issues with its implementation. This flaw ultimately limits and curbs its usefulness.

When working at the same time, there is a chance WPA and WPA2 will interfere with each other. This can lead to connection failures within your clients.

Also, when you disable WPS and WPA2 and, it could be a hassling process for attackers to pinpoint the WPA2-PSK used by clients. On the contrary, with these features enabled, it makes it easier for an attacker to find out your WPA2 code or key. This scenario is precisely the reason why security experts advise in keeping your WPS disabled.

Also, when you use WPA2, it decreases how your network connections perform. This is because of the additional load needed to process encryption as well as decryption. Because of this, you can usually shake off WPA2. This is true when you compare it with an increased risk for security by using WEP or WPA, or when you totally go without any encryption.

Emil S.

Emil is a Data & Design Specialist with a degree in BS Information System, specializes in Admin Support & Creative Design.

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