WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. The Wi-Fi Alliance, a global organization aiming to adopt a standard for high-speed wireless local area networking, created WPA as a standard. WPA is set to be rolled into IEEE 802.11i standard.
WPA has two major modes of operations: WPA Enterprise Mode and WPA PSK (Pre-Shared Key) Mode.
The enterprise mode needs an authentication server to carry out and complete its tasks. This mode also makes use of radius protocols for it to perform key distribution and authentication. The enterprise mode has a central system to manage information about user credentials. Since the enterprise mode uses a radius server, it benefits larger companies rather than homes and small businesses.
On the other hand, the PSK or Pre-Shared Key mode does not need an authentication server. To perform the process of authentication, the PSK mode uses shared secret. The PSK mode manages its user credentials through a device-oriented system. Since the PSK mode shares certain qualities with other shared password systems, it is susceptible to the same risks encountered by the said systems.
Moving on, WPA presents security enhancements to ensure the safety of information and the system itself. WPA requires re-keying through the use of an advanced protocol known as TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol). In addition, WPA increases its ICV (Integrity Check Value) through Message Integrity Check (MIC). This provides a higher level of protection for the system’s header and its payload. WPA also includes a frame counter to prevent replay attacks.