Encryption is a controversial topic, but it is a critical component of web security everywhere else. For the most part, this starts with our router connecting to the internet. Each router offers numerous encryption options, with AES/WPA2 emerging as the clear winner to keep each of us safe.
Unfortunately, older solutions, such as WEP, aren't much better than no protection at all, and some older routers are unfortunately set to that by default. Firmware updates should keep you up to date, but you'll need to know what you're looking for to find it.
Step 1: Enter the home address for your router in the address bar and hit enter. It's 192.168.1.1 for me, but it could be 192.168.0.1 or another version depending on your gateway. If nothing of these options work, a fast Google search for "[router brand] home address" will lead you to the right place.
Step 2: To continue, log in and press OK.
Step 3: On your router, go to Wireless settings at the top of the page — or something similar.
Step 4: Click Basic Security Settings — or anything similar to "security settings."
Step 5: Select WPA2 under Wi-Fi Security. WPA2 uses AES encryption, which is usually sufficient for most people.
Step 6: At the bottom, click Apply.
AES is a whole different type of encryption algorithm. It outperforms any security provided by TKIP. The algorithm is a 128-bit, 192-bit, or 256-bit block cipher that isn't vulnerable to the same flaws as TKIP.
To put it another way, the algorithm takes plaintext and turns it to ciphertext. To someone who doesn't have the encryption key, ciphertext appears to be a random string of characters.
The device or person holds a key on the receiving end of the communication, unlocking (or decrypts) the data for easy viewing. The router has the first key in this situation and encrypts the data before broadcasting. The second key is held by the computer, which decrypts the transmission so that it may be viewed on your screen.
The encryption level (128, 192, or 256 bits) controls how much data is "scrambled," and hence the number of possible permutations if you try to break it.
Even the weakest level of AES encryption, 128 bits, is theoretically impenetrable because finding the proper solution to the encryption method would take over 100 billion years with today's computing power.
Apart from security concerns, TKIP is an obsolete encryption technology known to slow down systems that still use it.
Most newer routers (anything 802.11n or newer) use WPA2-AES encryption by default, but if you have older equipment or chose WPA-TKIP encryption for any reason, you're likely losing a lot of speed.
Suppose you enable WPA or TKIP in the security options, any 802.11n router or newer slows down to 54Mbps. This ensures that the security protocol is compatible with older devices.
Under ideal (read: never going to happen) conditions, 802.11ac with WPA2-AES encryption can achieve theoretical maximum rates of 3.46Gbps. Aside from theoretical maximums, WPA2 and AES are substantially quicker than TKIP.
AES is, without a doubt, superior technology in every way. Moreover, it's a must-use in terms of given alternatives on new or current Wi-Fi networks, thanks to faster router speeds, highly safe browsing, and an algorithm that even big international governments rely on.