Networking / Beginners

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)

WPA2 is based on the ratified version of the IEEE 802.11i standard. This makes it quite different from plain WPA, which was a stop-gap measure based on draft versions of the IEEE 802.11i standard. WPA2 is the Wi-Fi Alliance's moniker for its implementation of the final IEEE 802.11i standard.

WPA2 has several components, discussed in the following sections, that can work individually or collectively to provide what the IEEE 802.11i subcommittee calls a "robust security network."

Key Management

The keys are the jewels in any crypto system because they are used in the encryption and decryption process. Key management, an important aspect of any cryptographic system, includes the following:

  • A mechanism to protect the keys
  • A mechanism for the communicating parties to use in agreeing on the secret keys to use
  • A mechanism for ensuring that unauthorized parties cannot use the keys
  • A mechanism for ensuring that the keys are used for their intended purpose
  • A secure method for distributing or transporting the secret keys to the parties that need them
  • Automatic and periodic generation of new keys
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