Internet, Networking, & Security Around the Web 34 34 people found this article helpful WPA2? WEP? What's The Best Encryption To Secure My Wi-Fi? What you need to know about wireless security By Andy O'Donnell Writer Andy O'Donnell, MA, is a former freelance contributor to Lifewire and a senior security engineer who is active in internet and network security. our editorial process Andy O'Donnell Updated September 02, 2018 Around the Web How to Get a VPN Tweet Share Email Our home wireless network has become an essential utility, ranking up there with water, power, and gas as a 'must have' in our lives. If you're like us, your wireless router likely probably sits in a dusty corner somewhere, lights blinking on and off, and for the most part, you probably don’t even give a second thought to what it’s actually doing to all that data traveling through the air. Hopefully, you have wireless encryption turned on and are protecting your network from unauthorized use. The big question: do you have the right encryption method in place to protect your data and how do you know which encryption is the “best” one to use? Filadrendron / Getty WEP (Don’t Use It) There is a good chance that if you set up your wireless router years ago and it’s been humming along for eons whilst gathering dust in a corner, it may be using a form of wireless security called Wired Equivalent Privacy (a.k.a WEP). WEP used to be “the standard” for wireless security, at least until it was cracked many years ago. WEP still exists on older networks that haven’t been upgraded to newer wireless security standards such as WPA and WPA2. If you’re still using WEP then you are nearly as vulnerable to wireless hacking as you would be without having any encryption because WEP is easily cracked by even the most novice hacker using freely available tools found on the Internet. Log into your wireless router’s administrator console and look under the “Wireless Security” section. Check to see if there are any other encryption options available to you other than WEP. If there isn’t, then you may need to check to see if a newer version of your router’s firmware is available that supports WPA2 (or the most current standard). If even after upgrading your firmware you still can’t switch to WPA2, your router may be too old to be secured and it might be time to upgrade to a new one. WPA After WEP’s demise, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) became the new standard for securing wireless networks. This new wireless security standard was more robust than WEP but also suffered from a flaw that would make it vulnerable to attack and thus created the need for yet another wireless encryption standard to replace it. WPA2 (The Current Standard for Wi-Fi Security) W-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) replaced WPA (and the previous WEP) and is now the current standard for Wi-Fi security. Select WPA2 (or a more current standard, if available) as your wireless encryption method of choice for your network. Other Factors Affecting Your Wireless Security While choosing the right encryption standard is a critical factor in your wireless network’s security posture, it’s definitely not the only piece of the puzzle. Here are a couple of other key factors for helping to ensure your network is in a secure state: Strength of Your Network Password Even if you’re using robust encryption, it doesn’t mean your network is impervious to attack. Your wireless network password (a.k.a Pre-shared Key under WPA2) is just as important as having strong encryption. Hackers can use specialized wireless hacking tools to attempt to crack your wireless network password. The simpler the password, the greater the chances are that it might end up compromised. Check out our article on Wireless Network Passwords to learn more about how to change your wireless network password to something stronger. Strength of Your Wireless Network’s Name You might not think it’s important, but your wireless network name can also be a security issue, especially if it’s a generic or popular one. Learn why in our article on Why Your Wireless Network’s Name Might Be a Security Risk. Router Firmware Last but not least, you should ensure that your wireless network router has the latest and greatest firmware updates loaded so that no unpatched router vulnerability is taken advantage of by wireless hackers.