AES vs TKIP for Wireless Encryption – Which is more secure?

Wireless encryption is a security tool to protect a company’s network. The word “encryption” means to turn something into code. When IT professionals use wireless encryption, they are encoding the messages sent between a computer’s wireless adapter and a wireless router.

By encrypting those messages, no one else can see what information the computer is transmitting.

There are two types of encryption for wireless networks. The first type is called Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP), and the second form is known as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).  In this article, we explore each type, and whether you need one or the other (or both).

TKIP Developed to Take Wireless Security to the Next Level

TKIP was designed to provide more security than Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which was the original protocol for wireless local area networks (WLAN).

WEP was a very weak security protocol. As a result, WiFi Protected Access (WPA) became a new security protocol, with TKIP as its encryption method.

This method of encryption is a suite of algorithms. TKIP wraps around WEP and adds extra code at the beginning and end of each data packet. It also encrypts each data packet with a unique key. These keys are much stronger than WEP alone.

Because TKIP wraps around WEP, that means that people or organizations which use legacy equipment can upgrade to TKIP without making costly replacements.

AES Introduced to Take Security a Step Further

Although TKIP is a good solution for those who use legacy equipment and cannot or do not want to upgrade, it still has weaknesses. It is very likely that TKIP will not protect sensitive data. In its 802.11i standard, published in June 2004, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) required new encryption protocols for wireless networks.

The IEEE set a standard that was more robust and more secure than its previous standards. This standard required TKIP and AES.

AES is a symmetric block cipher. A block cipher applies a cryptographic key to a block of data at once as opposed to encrypting information bit by bit. The US government utilizes AES to safeguard classified information.

AES Developed for US Government

This form of encryption originated in 1997, when the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, known as NIST, decided it was time to replace the Data Encryption Standard (DES), which had become vulnerable to cyber attacks.

The NIST’s goal was to develop something that would protect sensitive government information yet be easy to implement in hardware, software and restricted environments such as smart cards.

After several years of testing, cryptographers found an effective algorithm for AES. In 2002, AES became the US federal government’s encryption standard. A year later, the US government announced that AES could protect classified information.

Following that announcement, AES became very popular in the private sector. It is very effective at protecting information because it uses a strong algorithm and enables faster encryption than DES.

TKIP or AES:  Which is Best for Businesses?

Which form of wireless encryption is best to protect business data? AES is the strongest wireless encryption available. The only advantage of using TKIP is that you will not need to upgrade legacy equipment.

However, that legacy equipment will eventually stop working, and you will have to replace it. Whatever new equipment you buy will use AES. Consider making the switch now to keep your company’s data secure.

Where to Find Reliable Data Encryption Products

Knowing that you need to protect your business’ data with robust encryption is half the battle.  Finding the right software for your needs is the next step, which can be a daunting task.

With over five million SecureDoc users in more than 80 countries, WinMagic has been providing a software solution for businesses of every size to effectively keep data safe.  We are confident that we can help your business, too, so we provide an evaluation copy and an online demo of our products, where you will experience the benefits of our award winning data encryption right away.

Learn more about our products, and start protecting your data properly, so you can focus on growing your business, and not the ramifications of data vulnerabilities.

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