The IEEE 802.11i is an amendment to the 802.11 standard. 802.11i supports data communications security for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). This amendment defines processes for wireless authentication, key management, and packet encryption. 802.11i was released with improvements to the Wired Equivalent Policy (WEP), a previous network security standard which demonstrated some vulnerability. When 802.11i is implemented as WPA2, a wireless security protocol is established that provides enhanced authentication and access control processes. WPA2 utilises the encryption specification known as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) block cyphering. Block cyphers are used to encrypt bulk data.

Four-Way Handshake

The 802.11i standard defines WPA2’s 4-way handshake authentication protocol. The handshake is utilised to transmit messages between access points and clients, as it offers heightened security. The protocol allows the access point to deliver authentication to the client. 802.11i, in conjunction with WPA2, can enhance encryption on residential and enterprise networks that utilise the IEEE 802.11 standards, including 802.11a/b/g.

Comparing WPA and WPA2

WPA2 makes security improvements over the original Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). When comparing WPA and WPA2, WPA is not fully compliant with the 802.11i standard, while WPA2 is. Wi-Fi certified devices feature WPA2, though routers may offer WPA2 with WPA backward compatibility. The 802.11i encryption protocols of WPA2 support more robust WLAN security. WPA used Temporal Key Integrity Protocol while WPA2 employs AES-based encryption. Consumer home routers commonly use what is called WPA2 PSK technology. Comms Express service teams can provide further information on wireless device security.

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