WPA – Wi-Fi Protected Access

Short for Wi-Fi Protected Access, a Wi-Fi standard that was designed to improve upon the security features of WEP. The technology is designed to work with existing Wi-Fi products that have been enabled with WEP (i.e., as a software upgrade to existing hardware), but the technology includes two improvements over WEP:

  • Improved data encryption through the temporal key integrity protocol (TKIP). TKIP scrambles the keys using a hashing algorithmand, by adding an integrity-checking feature, ensures that the keys haven t been tampered with.
  • User authentication, which is generally missing in WEP, through the extensible authentication protocol (EAP). WEP regulates access to a wireless network based on a computer s hardware-specific MAC address, which isrelatively simple to be sniffed out and stolen. EAP is built on a more secure public-key encryption system to ensure that only authorized network users can access the network.

It should be noted that WPA is an interim standard that will be replaced with the IEEE s 802.11i standard upon its completion.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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