Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a security encrption method used by wireless networks. WPA is a more powerful security technology for Wi-Fi networks than WEP. It provides strong data protection by using encryption as well as strong access controls and user authentication. WPA utilizes 128-bit encryption keys and dynamic session keys to ensure the user's wireless network's privacy and enterprise security.
There are two basic forms of WPA:
- WPA Enterprise (requires a Radius server)
- WPA Personal (also known as WPA-PSK)
Either can use TKIP or AES for encryption. Not all WPA hardware supports AES.
WPA-PSK is basically an authentication mechanism in which users provide some form of credentials to verify that they should be allowed access to a network. This requires a single password entered into each WLAN node (Access Points, Wireless Routers, client adapters, bridges). As long as the passwords match, a client will be granted access to a WLAN.
Encryption mechanisms used for WPA and WPA-PSK are the same. The only difference between the two is in WPA-PSK, authentication is reduced to a simple common password, instead of user-specific credentials.
The Pre-Shared Key (PSK) mode of WPA is considered vulnerable to the same risks as any other shared password system - dictionary attacks for example. Another issue may be key management difficulties such as removing a user once access has been granted where the key is shared among multiple users, not likely in a home environment.