WiFi (Wireless) Security : WEP WPA WPA2


Wired Equivalent Privacy
WiFi Protected Access
WiFi Protected Access II
WiFi Protected Setup – Unlike the others, which encrypt traffic over the air from your device (eg, laptop, tablet, phone, Wii, ps3, xbox, tivo) to the wireless router, this one, WPS, is a way of setting up your router for the first time. It was meant to make setup, easy, even push-button, and to set you up, out of the box, with good security, but, sadly, it has a security flaw that makes the network INsecure. Doh!


My interest here is in answering the question “What security should i select?”

Unfortunately there is no one answer because of the timelines of deployment of these technologies.

The securist (is that a word?) is WPA2.

The only reason not to choose WPA2 is OLD DEVICES.

WEP was born in 1999, and was deprecated in 2009.

However, WPA came on the scene 2003, and started to become popular in machines manufactured in 2003 with sales ramp in 2004.

And WPA2 came on the scene in 2004, and started to become popular in machines manufactured in 2004 with sales ramp in 2005.

So if you have a device that’s from 2003 or before (today in year 2014 that’s 11 years ago–a long time in electronics), then that device will not support the strongest security, WPA2. Even if it’s from 2004-2005 it might not.

So if you set up WPA2 on your wireless router, your old devices (or the old devices of your friends and family who visit your home, or customers who visit your business) will not be able to connect.

For devices purchased in the year 2006, i’d say you have a mixed bag.
Some devices will support WPA2 (especially the more expensive ones) some wont (especially the budget-friendly / value ones).
Some devices will support still support WEP (especially the budget-friendly / value ones), and some won’t (especially the more expensive, security conscious ones).

WPA2 is safer than WPA, which is safer than WEP. WPA also has 1 year, maybe 2 year max, jump on WPA2. Meaning, if your devices was purchased in 2003-2006 it might have WPA and not WPA2.

WPA2 became standard in 2006. Most devices manufactured after this time and likely purchased in 2007 and later will be WPA2 compliant. Some of these devices will not even support WEP at all. So if you choose WEP for your wireless router, some NEW devices might not be able to connect.

So, what’s the answer? It depends on the age of the devices trying to connect. But, in 2014, we’re moving solidly into WPA2 and it’s getting more solid all the time, as old devices fade away.

Windows XP
FYI, Windows XP received an update in 2005 to support WPA2. It got an update in 2006. Those years were during the SP2 time frame, and WPA2 was included in the most popular SP3. HOWEVER, the PC hardware that Windows XP is running on has some kind of wireless adapter (all laptops do), and THAT has to also be WPA2 compatible. So, if you bought your laptop in 2005-2006, and you received the WPA2 WXP update, then you STILL might not be able to use WPA2 cuz of your hardware (even tho WXP could do it).

Support for WEP, WPA, WPA2 by year of purchase of device

(Note: year of purchase might be 1 year after year of actual MANUFACTURE.)

year of purchase: 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
security protocol support: WEP yes yes yes yes maybe maybe maybe maybe
WPA no maybe maybe maybe yes yes yes yes
WPA2 no no maybe maybe maybe yes yes yes


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