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Bradley Mitchell

WPA2 vs WPA for Wireless Security

By January 6, 2010

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As the name suggests, WPA2 is a second, newer version of Wireless Protected Access (WPA) security and access control technology for Wi-Fi wireless networking. WPA2 is available on all certified Wi-Fi hardware since 2006 and was an optional feature on some products before that. It is designed to improve the security of Wi-Fi connections by requiring use of stronger wireless encryption than what WPA requires. Specifically, WPA2 does not allow use of an algorithm called TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) that has known security holes (limitations).

Most wireless routers for home networks support both WPA and WPA2 and administrators must choose which one to run. Obviously, WPA2 is the simpler, safer choice. Some techies point out that using WPA2 requires Wi-Fi hardware to work harder in running the more advanced encryption algorithms, which can theoretically slow down the network's overall performance compared to running WPA. Network owners can make their own choice but should run experiments to decide whether they notice any difference in their networks speeds with WPA2 vs. WPA.

More - New Attack Cracks Common Wi-Fi Encryption in a Minute (August 2009)
See also - AES vs. TKIP for Wireless Encryption
September 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm
(1) Daniel says:

My wireless router also allows, apart from choosing either of the two modes, to run them both in parallel. Presumably this is to offer a fallback for older devices that don’t support WPA2. I was wondering whether there are any security-related downsides to enabling both protocols. In other words, do the flaws of WPA make only the connection with a specific device that uses it less secure, or would it make the entire network less secure if it’s enabled on the router?

January 22, 2014 at 8:28 pm
(2) bigdaddy68 says:

I just learned now that original Apple iPod Touch Gen 1 doesn’t support WPA2. So there’s a reason to pick WPA. Thanks Apple for making secure products….

March 5, 2014 at 2:56 am
(3) Zeke says:

bigdaddy68: you heard wrong. iPod Touch 1st Gen supports WEP, WPA, and WPA2.


April 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm
(4) Neil B says:

I’m getting problems with my Samsung Galaxy S2, it has connected to my router with WPA2 for 2 years and now only connects with WPA. I had to reset the phone to manufacturer’s settings and even that made no difference.

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