14.2 Wireless Encryption

Types of Wireless Encryption

  • WEP:
    • WEP is an encryption algorithm for IEEE 802.11 wireless networks.
    • It is an old and original wireless security standard which can be cracked easily.
  • WPA:
    • It is an advanced wireless encryption protocol using TKIP, MIC, and AES encryption.
    • Uses a 48 bit IV, 32 bit CRC and TKIP encryption for wireless security.
  • WPA2:
    • WPA2 uses AES (128 bit) and CCMP for wireless data encryption.
  • EAP:
    • Supports multiple authentication methods, such as token cards, Kerberos, certificates etc.
  • WPA2 Enterprise:
    • It integrates EAP standards with WPA2 encryption.
  • TKIP:
    • A security protocol used in WPA as a replacement for WEP.
  • CCMP: CCMP utilizes 128-bit keys, with a 48-bit initialization vector (IV) for replay detection.
  • AES:
    • It is a symmetric-key encryption, used in WPA2 as a replacement of TKIP.
  • 802.11i:
    • It is an IEEE amendment that specifies security mechanisms for 802.11 wireless networks.
    • It is a centralized authentication and authorization management system.
  • LEAP:
    • It is a proprietary WLAN authentication protocol developed by Cisco.

WEP Encryption

  • What is WEP:
    • Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is an IEEE 802.11 wireless protocol which provides security algorithms for data confidentiality during wireless transmissions.
    • WEP uses a 24-bit initialization vector (IV) to form stream cipher RC4 for confidentiality, and the CRC-32 checksum for integrity of wireless transmission.
  • WEP encryption can be easily cracked:
    • 64-bit WEP uses a 40-bit key
    • 128-bit WEP uses a 104-bit key
    • 256-bit WEP uses a 232-bit key
  • It was developed without:
    • Academic or public review
    • Review from cryptologists
  • WEP Flaws:
    • It has significant vulnerabilities and design flaws.

How WEP Works

  1. CRC-32 checksum is used to calculate a 32-bit Integrity Check Value (ICV) for the data, which, in turn, is added to the data frame.
  2. A 24-bit arbitrary number known as Initialization Vector (IV) is added to WEP key; WEP key and IV are together called as WEP seed.
  3. The WEP seed is used as the input to RC4 algorithm to generate a key stream (key stream is bit-wise XORed with the combination of data and ICV to produce the encrypted data).
  4. The IV field (IV+PAD+KID) is added to the ciphertext to generate a MAC frame.

What is WPA?

  • Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a data encryption method for WLANs based on 802.11 standards.
  • It is a snapshot of 802.11i (under development) providing stronger encryption, and enabling PSK or EAP authentication.
  • TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol):
    • TKIP utilizes the RC4 stream cipher encryption with 128-bit keys and 64-bit MIC integrity check.
    • TKIP mitigated vulnerability by increasing the size of the IV and using mixing functions.
  • 128-bit Temporal Key:
    • Under TKIP, the client starts with a 128-bit "temporal key" (TK) that is then combined with the client's MAC address and with an IV to create a keystream that is used to encrypt data via the RC4.
    • It implements a sequence counter to protect against replay attacks.
  • WPA Enhances WEP:
    • TKIP enhances WEP by adding a rekeying mechanism to provide fresh encryption and integrity keys.
    • Temporal keys are changed for every 10,000 packets. This makes TKIP protected networks more resistant to cryptanalytic attacks involving key reuse.

How WPA Works

Temporal Keys

  • In WPA and WPA2, the encryption keys (temporal keys) are derived during the four-way handshake.

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