What are the biggest differences between WPA and WPA2 and why is AES so much safer than TKIP?

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    Since this is clearly in reference to 802.11, how is this above L4?
    – YLearn
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:28
  • Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you could provide and accept your own answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 6:20

1 Answer 1


WPA and WPA2 in very simple terms are two different methods for and end device and AP to exchange encryption keys. Depending on your platform, you can support WPA and/or WPA2 with either TKIP or AES.

TKIP and AES are the two methods by which the data is encrypted.

What are the biggest differences between WPA and WPA2 and why is AES so much safer than TKIP?

If it helps, think of the difference as pressing a paper towel to a three inch gash on your arm versus getting stitches at the emergency room. One is an immediate solution that mitigates the problem at hand, the other is a better, longer term solution.

WEP was broken (badly) and needed to be fixed. However standards bodies sometimes move much slower than solutions are needed. So WPA/TKIP was provided as a better solution than WEP that could be implemented purely in code/software/drivers.

Basically, TKIP is WEP with a few extra features, provided to the community largely by a major network vendor they had previously developed as proprietary enhancements. While it provided fixes to many of the problems with WEP, it is still based on WEP.

WPA was derived from a draft of the 802.11i amendment from the IEEE. There were some changes from the draft to the finalized version of 802.11i, which is why the 802.11i standard version is called WPA2. Ultimately the differences are relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things.

For encryption, the IEEE selected AES for 802.11i. This was a much stronger encryption than WEP however many existing wireless devices were not capable of handling the demands of AES, often requiring new wireless adapters to be installed/used.

Because of this limitation to AES, it was allowed to run either WPA/WPA2 with TKIP instead of AES until the IEEE finalized 802.11n. 802.11n no longer allowed support for TKIP, so an access point was supposed to disable the HT (high throughput) data rates if it were used and operate like an 802.11a/g device.

Since that time, only WPA/AES or WPA2/AES are supported officially by the 802.11 standards.

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