What is a WPA key?

A WPA key is part of the Wi-Fi Protected Access wireless Internet security scheme. WPA and its successor, WPA2, use pre-shared keys to facilitate very strong encryption security for wireless data transmission. These keys are used to mutually authenticate communications between wireless devices, typically using a hub-and-spoke model that sends communications from many devices through a wireless network router, which then communicates with the Internet using a wired connection. wire. A modified version of these security protocols uses a centralized server to handle user authentication, rather than relying on a WPA key that has been shared with all authorized users.

A WPA key can be used to secure a wireless network.

Wireless networks are ubiquitous in the modern world. Many function as unsecured networks and are very vulnerable to hacker attacks. They offer almost no protection for data transmitted to and from computers. Some security can be provided through the dynamic exchange of security keys between a computer or other mobile device and a server, but this still leaves the underlying data connection vulnerable to eavesdropping.

Hotels can use a WPA key so that only guests can access the network.

WPA and WPA2 wireless security systems address this security vulnerability. On most small networks, a WPA key is at the heart of this protection. This key is shared with all devices that must have access to the network. Ideally, this sharing should be done offline, so that the transmission of the key itself is not vulnerable to interception.

The WPA key consists of a 256-bit string of data. This can be generated directly by a user and shared in the form of a 64-digit hex key. This is a rather complicated method of sharing an encryption key, however, and does not lend itself to easy memorization by users. A second option for WPA key sharing involves using a passphrase and a key derivation function.

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Passphrases consist of strings of up to 63 ASCII characters. The numeric values ‚Äč‚Äčassociated with these characters are then combined with the network name, known as the service set identifier (SSID), and go through several iterations of a derivation function. The resulting 64 hexadecimal digits are used as the WPA key.

A key generated from a passphrase plus SSID is potentially more vulnerable than a truly random 64-digit key. A long passphrase coupled with an unusual SSID will produce a brute-force intrusion-proof key. A short or common passphrase such as “password” combined with a common SSID such as “network” or the name of a specific brand of router will produce a valueless key. Hackers have already calculated the generated keys from the most common combinations and will try them at the beginning of any brute force attack.

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