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How to configure WPA

The procedure for enabling WEP is very similar to the procedure for enabling WPA. On this page I will show you how to implement Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) encryption on your wireless network using the Linksys WRT54G router. Let's start of with some facts about WPA.

  • Like WEP, WPA is a protocol that encrypts data that is sent over the network. Encryption means 'scrambling' data, so that it becomes unreadable to outsiders
  • WPA Pre-Shared Key (WPA-PSK) is a mechanism for sending network keys between computers on a wireless network. Home networks typically use PSK, while in professional network environments a RADIUS server may be used to take care of network authentication.
  • The Temporal Key Integrity Protocol or TKIP is a wireless network security protocol. It is the 'workhorse' behind WPA security. TKIP takes care of the actual encryption of network packets before they are sent over the network.
  • In the examples shown below I have set WPA-PSK / TKIP wireless security. At this moment that is (nov 2006) that is the best way to secure your network, since it offers relatively strong encryption and it is well supported by hardware and software manufacturers. AES actually offers stronger security, but is not as well supported yet.
  • Windows XP with Service Pack 2 installed supports WPA security, Windows XP Service Pack 1 doesn't! If you use XP with SP1 please read this.

Configuring WPA wireless security on the router

First, let's log on to the router.

  1. Open your internet browser and type http://192.168.1.1 in the address bar. This is the default IP address of the browser.
  2. In the login box that appears type 'admin' (without quotes) in both fields. 'admin' is the default username and password.

Write down the SSID

  1. In theWireless > Basic Wireless Settingsmenu you will see the Service Set Identifier or SSID. The SSID differentiates one wireless network from another. It is the 'network name'. Write it down, or copy paste it to a text file. You will need it later. You can first set your own SSID if you like.

In the Linksys WRT54G router you will find the wireless security options underWireless > Wireless Security.This page allows you to set wireless encryption options.

  1. Like in the example above setSecurity Modeto WPA Pre-Shared Key.
  2. Set theWPA alghoritmto TKIP.
  3. Type a key in theWPA Shared Keyfield with a length between 8 and 32 characters. Remember that a longer key is more secure. Besides that, a key that is made up of random characters is harder to crack than a key that contains real words, because real words can be guessed far easier.
  4. Write down the key or copy-paste to a text file, because you will need it later to connect to the network.
  5. ClickSave Settings

Your computer will now be disconnected from the router. You may see a 'page not found' warning or some other error message in your webbrowser. Your router now demands that computers that connect to it use WPA encryption and the correct WPA key. In other words: you have succesfully secured your network. Now let's configure your computer to reconnect to the router using the right WPA key.

Configuring WPA security in Windows XP SP2

I will show you how to configure WPA using Windows' built-in wireless network options. Most wireless network card manufacturers create have developed their own configuration software that you can use to manage wireless connections and security. You can use whichever software you like best. The settings remain the same. Please note that you will need a computer with a properly installed wireless network card to continue.

  1. In Windows XP go to Start > Settings > Network Connections.
  2. Doubleclick the wireless network connection. The wireless network connections window will appear. This window shows you the wireless networks that are within range.
  3. If all is right than you should see your wireless network in the list, since your router is advertising your network's SSID to the outside world. In this example I used the word 'kazam' as the SSID.
  4. Clickchange advanced settingsin the bottom-left corner of the window. A new window will appear. Select thewireless networkstab. 'Wireless
  5. Select your network's SSID from the list and click thepropertiesbutton. This will bring up the window that allows you to fill out the network key. 'Encryptption
  6. SelectWPA-PSKfrom theNetwork Authenticationdropdown and selectTKIPfrom theData encryptionmenu.
  7. Type or rather paste your network key in both thenetwork keyfields at the bottom.
  8. Click OK.

Your computer should now reconnect to the router using WPA wireless security and the proper network key. You can consider your network well secured now, but there are still some options that provide added security. I'll start of with MAC address filtering on the next page.