Essay: Comparison of WEP and WPA

Essay: Comparison of WEP and WPA
13/04/2011 Comments Off on Essay: Comparison of WEP and WPA Academic Papers on Information Technology,Sample Academic Papers admin

Sample Essay

One of the major drawbacks of the use of WEP to provide security in a wireless network was the use of static shared keys between the client and the access point for encryption of data. These keys would remain same for days, even months and could not be changed manually. Hence any attacker wanting to compromise a WEP network would have had a lot of time to attempt and crack the security of the network.

Furthermore, sharing the same key among the network would have meant that the keys were needed to be advertised through email or other medium to all those wanting to gain access to the network. The publishing of a secret key like that would have completely undone the security provided by WEP as it might have leaked to an attacker. Furthermore, at numerous occasions it was shown that the WEP shared key could be cracked within minutes if not hours through the use of brute force dictionary attacks and through understanding of the key generation algorithm. WPA, however, uses the TKIP protocol which ensures that the key used for encryption of data changes with each frame. This offer much better security as the constantly changing keys would be very difficult for an attacker to break. Also in WEP, the data was verified through the use of CRC-32 algorithm. This was another shortcoming of WEP, as CRC-32 was never a strong algorithm and did not offer the same level of security that most of the common cryptographic algorithm, such as MD5, available nowadays. Furthermore, the use of ICV in WEP standard did not necessarily proved the integrity of the header of frame itself and hence was not sufficient to prove the data had not been tempered with. Hence, information inside a frame could have easily been changed by an attacker without client or access point finding out that it has been tampered with.  The WPA, however, uses a much secure and newer Michael algorithm to ensure the integrity of the data while the Message Integrity Check field also has a frame counter which is used to protect against frame replay attacks. Along with all these improvements, a WPA network is made more secure through the use of authentication mechanism called Extensible Authentication Protocol, where each new client is authenticated through a key challenge. However, this feature may be disabling to use the shared keys which are same as the WEP, thus making WPA vulnerable as well. Another disadvantage of WPA is the compromise on speed.


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