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What's the best wifi encryption protocol for home networks?

Which wifi protocol is best for your home network? We evaluate speed, security and performance to help you make the best decision.

Types of wifi encryption protocols

Think of wifi encryption protocols like a foreign language that only you and those on your network can understand. Anything that you do online gets translated to this language, making it virtually unreadable by outsiders. There are three types of wifi encryption protocols: Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), and Wi-Fi Protected Access Version 2 (WPA2). These encryptions have one thing in common — protecting the data on your network — but the main difference lies in how well they do so. Think of these as ‘good, better, and best’.
 

  • Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP): This encryption protocol is the first of its kind. As so, WEP has many security deficiencies and is easily hackable. While it is still used, it has been replaced by more secure alternatives.

  • Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA): WPA was born as a result of WEP flaws. There are two types of WPA protocols: pre-shared key (WPA-PSK) and Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (WPA-TKIP). While both provide some level of protection, WPA-PSK is much more secure. Think of WPA-TKIP like an electronic hotel room key-card. While it requires a validated card to enter the room, anyone could retrieve one of these cards from the hotel lobby. On the other hand, WPA-TKIP is like the dead bolt on the back of your hotel door — only you can unlock it. Most new routers already have one type of WPA (or WPA2) set up.

  • Wi-Fi Protected Access Version 2 (WPA2): WPA2 is an advancement of WPA and contains an even higher level of security encryption for wifi networks. WPA2 uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) which is also used by the U.S. government to protect classified documents. This is the strongest level of security you can provide for your home wifi network.
Strongest Encryption for Home Networks

How to set up WPA2 on your network

Before setting up WPA2 on your network, make sure that all connected devices can support this security protocol. You should also check with your internet service provider to see if WPA2 is already elected for your network. To manually set up this encryption:

1.    Connect the device to an ethernet cable.

2.    Open your preferred browser and type your router’s IP address into the address bar. Start by trying the two most popular addresses: 192.168.1.0 or 192.168.1.1. If neither of these work, you can locate your IP address in one of two ways:
 

  • Find the IP address on the bottom or side of the physical router.
  • Use your phone’s mobile data connection to run a search query online for the model of your modem. The manufacturer’s site should list the correct address.

3.    The IP address should take you to a page hosted by your internet service provider. When prompted for login credentials, enter “admin" for the username and password. Alternatively, the password may be “password" or there may be no password.

4.    From there, steps can vary depending on the device manufacturer. Locate a section titled “wifi” and look for a specific field where you can elect your router security settings. You will likely see an option for WEP, WPA, and WPA2. Be sure to choose WPA2.

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