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Windows 7: Wireless Encryption

18 Apr 2010   #1
CarlTR6

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 
Wireless Encryption

I can't say that I understand wireless encryption; but I do understand what it does. I have two questions.

1. When I first installed my wireless two years ago, I only had one choice - WEP. Now I have the following choices -

WEP - Open
WEP - Shared
WPA - PSK
WPA - PSK and WPA2 - PSK
WPA2 - PSK

What should I choose?

2. Since I don't know how encryption works, will the choice affect my network. I have a Win 7 desktop and an XP laptop connecting to the internet via wi-fi. And I have both set up in Homegroup. Will I have to make changes in each computer?

In short, should I let well enough alone or should I increase my router security?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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18 Apr 2010   #2
Bill2

Windows 7 x64 pro/ Windows 7 x86 Pro/ XP SP3 x86
 
 

Carl,

1) In WEP, when the user tries to authenticate, there is a handshake between the access point (router) and the authenticating computer. The AP sends a random packet to the computer which is then encrypted with the key by the computer and sent back to the AP. The AP then decrypts using the same key, and if that wotks, the user is authenticated. Problem is this key is static, so somebody with some time and easily available tools can sniff out your key from your wireless packets. In fact various scholarly people have done all these studies showing a WEP key can be broken in a few minutes.

In WPA, a different protocol (TKIP)is used which changes the key with every packet. It also uses a message integrity check. That is why WPA is more secure. WPA2, the latest version uses AES security, which AFAIK is virtually unbreakable and is used for military purposes as well.

2) Yes you'll need to reset the key on your router and each of your computers.

3) Theres also a notion that using a stronger key slows down the network. Personally, I have experienced no speed issues when switching from WEP to WPA. I use the strongest protection WPA2-PSK.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Apr 2010   #3
CarlTR6

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 

Thank you, Bill. So in essence, if I change the encryption protocol, I simply have to reconnect both computers as I did when I initially set up the wi-fi?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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18 Apr 2010   #4
manhunter2826

Windows XP - Now Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).
 
 

True, many folk say say there is a little bit more of a latency when you use a stronger encryption key. Personally, I think it's barely noticeable to the naked human eye; and even if there is, that latency is well worth it. Perhaps it's a trade-off between speed/security.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Apr 2010   #5
zzz2496

Windows7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

The best encryption protocol so far is WPA2. WPA2 has 2 methods of encryption, one is TKIP, the other one is AES. For high security, you'd want to use a very long (preferably) more than 20 characters of passkey (mixed between alpha numeric and special characters like: ()-+=_*&^%$#@!~`{}[]\|, you get the idea). For even higher security, make a set of passwords, and rotate them in a pattern. A single password is still one single point of failure, multiple password - that's another level . Once you changed the encryption type/key/method - all you have to do is just reconnect your wifi clients, nothing is changed. As for higher encryption reduces speed, this depends on the chipset of your wifi devices, but all recent hardware(s) won't be affected by this encryption overhead...

zzz2496
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Apr 2010   #6
CarlTR6

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 

Thanks, Manhunter; I appreciate that input. I'm not really overly concerned about the speed. This things works faster than I can type anyway!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Apr 2010   #7
CarlTR6

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by zzz2496 View Post
The best encryption protocol so far is WPA2. WPA2 has 2 methods of encryption, one is TKIP, the other one is AES. For high security, you'd want to use a very long (preferably) more than 20 characters of passkey (mixed between alpha numeric and special characters like: ()-+=_*&^%$#@!~`{}[]\|, you get the idea). For even higher security, make a set of passwords, and rotate them in a pattern. A single password is still one single point of failure, multiple password - that's another level . Once you changed the encryption type/key/method - all you have to do is just reconnect your wifi clients, nothing is changed. As for higher encryption reduces speed, this depends on the chipset of your wifi devices, but all recent hardware(s) won't be affected by this encryption overhead...

zzz2496
Good information. Thanks, zzz2496.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Apr 2010   #8
manhunter2826

Windows XP - Now Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by CarlTR6 View Post
Thanks, Manhunter; I appreciate that input. I'm not really overly concerned about the speed. This things works faster than I can type anyway!
Lol, I agree!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Wireless Encryption




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