What is the Best Security Mode for My Wireless Router
Many router manufacturers equip their units with a wide array of security modes. These include WPA2-PSK (TKIP), WPA2-PSK(TKIP/AES) as well as WPA2-PSK (AES). While these options are all available, you need to choose the right one to have a more secure, optimized internet connection.
Determining the right security model for your router can be a challenging task, especially for those who are not well versed with these terminologies. Because of this, through this article, we will try to answer the question, “What is the best security model for my wireless router?” After reading this article, we hope that you will be able to determine the right security mode for your wireless connection. With that said, let us start.
Knowing The Terms
Before jumping into the discussions and comparing each of the different modes, let us first give you a brief background about the terminologies we will mention in this article. Most routers come with Wired Equivalent Privacy or WEP; WIFI Protected Access or WPA, as well as WIFI, Protected Access 2 or WPA2 modes. These modes are the main security profiles manufactures equip their routers whenever setting up a wireless connection.
Among the three, WEP is the oldest and least robust security. This mode is more prone and vulnerable to cyber attacks. WPA improves the flaws of WEP, making it a more robust security profile. However, with newer malware and virus infections, WPA is not that secure anymore. To deal with this, manufacturers have devised a more secure and robust mode which is now the WPA2. With this, WPA2 is the most reliable security mode.
Aside from these terminologies, we also have Temporal Key Integrity Protocol or TKIP and Advanced Encryption Standard or AES. These terms are used to describe the two different encryption modes that will be used in coordination with the security mentioned above modes. Now that we have already laid out the necessary information about these terminologies, let us discuss what makes them different from each other.
AES vs. TKIP
As mentioned above, AES and TKIP are different kinds of encryption that are used in coordination with different modes of security. Between the two, TKIP is older as it was introduced together with the WPA that was invented to remedy the poor performing and insecure WEP security mode. With this, the TKIP is inferior when it comes to security, making it a more reasonable choice if you want better protection for your connection.
AES, on the other hand, is a more reliable security encryption protocol compared to TKIP. AES was first introduced alongside the WPA2. Aside from providing security encryption for wireless connections, AES is also used as an encryption standard that is adopted across the world, even in US government organizations. For example, if you want to have encryption for your hard drive using different security programs such as TrueCrypt, the program makes use of AES encryption. Moreover, AES is also significantly more secure. However, it still has its fair share of weaknesses. One of the most apparent is its vulnerability towards brute force attacks.
WPA2 makes use of AES as an encryption protocol for added security. However, it can also use the older, TKIP encryption for devices that do not have support yet for AES.
Most WIFI users may have come across the term PSK. The term is an abbreviation for “Pre Shared Key.” This term is used to describe a key that will function as an encryption passphrase. With this, it helps to distinguish PSK from the WPA Enterprise, which makes use of a RADIUS server that churns out unique keys for more substantial scale businesses or government-owned WIFI networks.
Wi-Fi Security Modes Explained
Describing the different security modes can be a daunting task, but we’ll try our best to make it easier to comprehend. With this, you can decide which mode best suits your online activities and WIFI connection.
An Open security mode is a WIFI setup that does not require any passphrase. With this, we do not recommend setting up your WIFI openly. This will render your connection to be more susceptible to cyber attacks. Another reduced security mode is WEP 64. This comes to no surprise since it is one of the oldest security modes. With this, we don’t recommend you using it for your internet connection.
WEP 128, on the other hand, is a more recent security mode but is still vastly vulnerable to attacks. WPA-PSK is an expected upgrade over the original WPA security mode. While being a more recently released security measure, it is still susceptible to cyber threats and malware.
WPA-PSK (AES) makes use of the original WPA protocol. However, in place of the TKIP encryption, it is now equipped with the newer, more secure AES encryption. The WPA-PSK security mode is meant as a stopgap. It is worth noting that devices that have support for AES will be compatible with WPA2. However, tools that make use of WPA might not have support for AES encryption.
WPA2-PSK (TKIP) makes use of a newer WPA2 standard alongside the more obsolete TKIP encryption. Despite having WPA2 protocol, this mode is not as secure because of the TKIP encryption it comes with. Nevertheless, this is a good option for those with devices that are not able to connect to the previous mentioned, WPA2-PSK (AES) mode.
WPA2-PSK (AES) mode is the most secure profile. The mode makes use of the WPA2 standard alongside the most recent AES encryption protocol. With this, we highly recommend users to set up their network with this kind of security mode. In most devices, you will be able to find the options “WPA2 or WPA2-PSK” mode. These modes make use of the AES encryption protocol adding another layer of protection and security.
Just recently, some devices come with a mixture of the different modes mentioned above. With this, users can connect to a WIFI with the WPAWPA2-PSK (TKIP/AES) security profile. With this, the WIFI network is further secured as it comes with both WPA and WPA2 standards alongside both TKIP and AES encryption. With this, devices are more flexible when it comes to connecting with this type of setup.
So there you have it, those are the different security modes available for any WIFI network. As a conclusion, we highly recommend users to set up their system with the WPA2-PSK (AES) as it is the most secure and accessible security profile.