- Nearly everyone alive today knows that password-protecting your network is best practice. You don’t want just anyone having access to your network, whether it’s your neighbor just looking for free Internet or a malicious hacker looking to steal your information. You don’t want to get a visit from the police just because someone else used your network for nefarious purposes!
Passwords are not the only protection your network needs. It also needs strong encryption so that no one can intercept the data.
Wi-Fi Encryption Protocols
Since 1999 when the Wi-Fi Alliance ratified the first Wi-Fi encryption protocol, WEP, there have been numerous updates to improve the technology. However, despite all the advances in encryption, some still use the twenty-year-old original protocol.
There are different methods of encryption that are used to protect Wi-Fi networks: WEP, WPA, and WPA2. The Wi-Fi Alliance has just begun certifying new products using the new WPA3 technology. Each new protocol improved on the security of the previous one, making your network safer.
However, the older versions are still available and, unfortunately, still widely used. WEP has never been a good option for encryption, even when it was first released. The Wi-Fi Alliance retired this method of encryption in 2004. A year later, the FBI demonstrated how easily hackers could crack WEP encryption by exploiting its many flaws.
The Wi-Fi Alliance planned to replace WEP with WPA-TKIP, but that protocol works in very similar ways as the original one. They have many of the same vulnerabilities. If you can crack one, you can usually crack the other.
Windows’ “Wi-Fi Isn’t Secure” Warning
Windows has recently added a warning when you try to connect to a network that is protected by one of these older encryption protocols. This message is for your safety and as a warning, especially if you are running Windows 10, that you will soon be unable to connect to these less secure protocols.
This warning states:
[Network Name] isn’t secure.
This Wi-Fi uses an older security standard that’s being phased out. We recommend connecting to a different network.
This message lets you know that you are trying to connect to a network that is still using WEP or WPA-TKIP encryption.
How to Fix the Issue
If you see this message when trying to connect to your home network, you should be able to fix the problem by enabling a stronger, more recent method of encryption.
Each router has a different method for changing these protocols, so you may have to check the manufacturer’s website to find the exact location of this option.
1. Either type your router’s IP address into the address bar of your browser, or if you have a Netgear router, you can type routerlogin.net to access the router.
2. Log in to your router with your username and password. If you don’t have a password set, check the router manufacturer’s site for the default.
3. Locate the Web interface. It will look something like the following image.
4. Select the most robust encryption protocol available on your router.
Here’s a list of the available encryption protocols on most modern routers manufactured after 2006. They are in order of most secure to least secure.
- Any WPA3 (This is only available on the newest routers as it has just become available.)
- WPA2 + AES
- WPA + AES
- WPA + TKIP/AES (TKIP is there as a failsafe)
- WPA + TKIP
If you don’t see any better options than WEP or WPA+TKIP, your best bet is to purchase a new router. There are many reasonably-priced models available that can handle the requirements of a medium-sized house with up to twenty Wi-Fi devices.
No matter what you need to do to stop using these outdated protocols, you should do so quickly. Not only are they easy to hack into, but it will also soon be impossible to use them on your Windows devices.