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Joel

AES vs. TKIP

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TKIP and AES are two different types of encryption that can be used by a Wi-Fi network. TKIP stands for “Temporal Key Integrity Protocol.” It was a stopgap encryption protocol introduced with WPA to replace the very-insecure WEP encryption at the time. TKIP is actually quite similar to WEP encryption. TKIP is no longer considered secure, and is now deprecated. In other words, you shouldn’t be using it.

AES stands for “Advanced Encryption Standard.” This was a more secure encryption protocol introduced with WPA2, which replaced the interim WPA standard. AES isn’t some creaky standard developed specifically for Wi-Fi networks; it’s a serious worldwide encryption standard that’s even been adopted by the US government. For example, when you encrypt a hard drive with TrueCrypt, it can use AES encryption for that. AES is generally considered quite secure, and the main weaknesses would be brute-force attacks (prevented by using a strong passphrase) and security weaknesses in other aspects of WPA2.

The “PSK” in both names stands for “pre-shared key” — the pre-shared key is generally your encryption passphrase. This distinguishes it from WPA-Enterprise, which uses a RADIUS server to hand out unique keys on larger corporate or government Wi-Fi networks.

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