Setting up proper wireless encryption is easier than ever on Linux. WEP is broken and has been for a long time, but WPA and WPA2 are still going strong. Eric Geier shows how to configure your Linux client to connect to a proper wireless encryption and authentication server to set up a secure wireless connection.
In this tutorial series, we’ll first see how 802.1X authentication fits into the big picture of wireless LAN security. Then we’ll configure the authentication settings in Ubuntu. Lastly, we’ll review the manual configuration of 802.1X supplicants. Lets get started!
The transition from WEP to WPA to WPA2
Back when the vulnerabilities of WEP encryption for Wi-Fi networks were uncovered, the IEEE and wireless industry started developing new protocols and standards. They came up with the 802.11i, a standard to finally implement a fully secure encryption mechanism for wireless LANs. Before it was completed, the Wi-Fi Alliance released the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) encryption standard, loosely based on 802.11i using TKIP for the underlying encryption. Later they released WPA2, which includes full support for 802.11i using AES/CCMP encryption.
As many news outlets have discussed lately, there have been more flaws found in the first version of WPA. However, unlike some reports say, it hasn’t been cracked; full encryption keys or passphrases haven’t been recovered. The flaws apply to the underlying TKIP encryption and affects both the Enterprise and PSK modes of the first version of WPA. This does not have anything to do with WPA2, which uses a fully secure AES/CCMP encryption. Though WPA currently provides adequate security, especially with long and mixed character passphrases, you should try to migrate to WPA2–and make sure you don’t use WEP at all…
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