Key Reasons Why Everyone Should Use the WPA2 Wi-Fi Protocol

Apr 20, 2017 by

Often times, the second version of an application or protocol is better than the first one. Fortunately, this is also the case for WPA2, which is much more secure in comparison with the first version of the Wireless Protected Access (WPA) protocol.

WPA2 was introduced back in 2006, with the goal of boosting the wireless encryption level. In fact, the main reason for WPA2’s introduction was the replacement of the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) encryption mechanism, which had some serious security holes.

It’s true that with WPA2, routers need to work harder, due to the advanced encryption algorithms, which require more computing power. Some people think that this will diminish the speed of the Wi-Fi network, but from my experience the speed loss is minimal, while the security benefits are huge.

Everything started with the WEP protocol, which can now be cracked within minutes using a cleverly built app and a regular smartphone. And the explanation for the protocol encryption weakness is quite simple: the encryption key is transmitted together with each data packet. This means that if people have access to enough data packets (read “time at their disposal”) they can easily find out the wireless network password. Many use high gain antennas, plug them into their laptops using standard Wi-Fi antenna cables, and then are able to connect to networks that are hundreds of yards away.

WPA, the next iteration of the Wi-Fi security protocol, offered TKIP encryption, scrambling the encryption key and verifying its integrity on a regular basis. It was a much better option, but still not good enough, because TKIP is vulnerable. But with WPA2, TKIP was replaced with the much stronger AES encryption protocol.

It may sound weird, but some routers are able to support the WPA2 protocol in conjunction with the AES/TKIP combo. This way, the router will be able to serve even older clients, which are unable to connect using the newer AES protocol.

The most used WPA2 security key is PSK (pre-shared key). This key can have a length of up to 64 digits, and is also known as “WPA2 Personal”.

So, if your router is configured to run using the WPA protocol, it’s time to switch it to WPA2. And if it doesn’t support WPA2, it’s time to replace it with a modern router – if you care for your network’s integrity and security, of course.

Truth be told, some WPA routers are able to speak AES as well. These routers were released on the market before the WPA2 standard was finalized, and they may do the job, protecting your Wi-Fi password from prying eyes. It’s important to verify if all the network clients support the WPA-AES mode, though. A diagram which shows a part of the encryption mechanism is displayed below.

So, is WPA2 the best security protocol out there? The answer is a firm YES! And yet, there is an issue with the second version of WPA – and it’s a big one!

A WPA2-exclusive feature called Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) can cause serious security problems. WPS was designed with the goal of simplifying the process of connecting a client to the Wi-Fi network. Simply push a button on the router and another one on the new device, and the new client will be automatically connected to the network! Isn’t that nice?

But if your router’s WPS is activated, a hacker who has discovered the WPS pin will be able to find out the WPA2 key without too much effort. Basically, you are trading a complex, hard to break password for a much easier to guess WPS pin.

This is the main reason why I will never enable WPS on any of my routers. I strongly recommend that you should do the same, even if you will have to add each new client to the network manually, connecting it to the network and inputting the requested password.

It’s a process that may take a minute or so per device, but it will allow you to sleep well at night, knowing that your files and shared resources are 100% secure.


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New IoT Device and Clever Neural Network Framework Application

Mar 13, 2017 by

Hello Egg Helps Anyone Cook Like a MasterChef

I don’t know about you, but I feel that our lives are invaded. Our smartphones keep track of our every move, they know how we feel, what we like, what we dislike, and then share the data not only with the O.S. makers, but also with the various apps manufacturers.

Our television sets are always eager to listen to our voice commands, and may even share what they hear (besides voice commands!) with their makers and partners, with the goal of improving their services. Or, I’d rather say, they are interested in building a better user profile, which can then be sold for a lot of cash to advertisers. Actually, I am quite sure that both scenarios apply.

If you feel that everyone is trying (and often times succeeding) to track you, you’ll understand why I don’t like these voice-powered gadgets that much. But one of them – Hello Egg – sounds really promising!

It’s a tiny cooking assistant which was built by RnD64 and will soon hit the market. As you prepare a meal, Hello Egg will assist you by showing you relevant cooking videos on its funny shaped 5.5″ display, along with user-friendly, voice-powered cooking instructions.

I know that you can see good cooking videos on YouTube, but the Egg looks cooler, is able to provide 100% relevant results (that’s what is was built for!) and it has learned several impressive tricks.

It can play your favorite music while you are cooking, for example. It can also plan meals according to your dietary preferences. It includes a shopping list and can even help you order the needed groceries.

Hello Egg has a lot of potential. And if its makers will keep expanding its features through clever software updates, they may have a winner in their hands!


New App Can Color Your Drawings Automatically

So, you know how to draw a rabbit’s head, do you? But what about coloring it? Many people love to draw, but lack the needed time and (most of all) the needed abilities when it comes to coloring their great looking work.

If you fall into this category, you will be happy to hear that some people really love you. That’s why they have created PaintsChainer, I guess.

Chainer is a powerful neural network frame which can help accelerate the process of building deep learning applications. It supports the simple, easy to learn Python programming language, so it can be used by a broad array of aspiring or advanced programmers.

PaintsChainer is an application that can color your hand-drawn art. Simply upload your file, and then let the program color your drawing. The process can run automatically, or you can tweak a few parameters until you get the desired results. As always, the more work you put into tweaking the options, the better the results.

I really wanted to test this innovative application before writing this article, so I have tried several images. Sometimes the results are unusable, especially when you try to color out-of-ordinary drawings. But I have to admit that the app gets the job done properly most of the time – even without any user guidance! Here’s one of the example pictures I’ve used with it.

It’s quite surprising to see what PaintsChainer can do on its own within seconds, and you can really get amazing results by tweaking its settings. Get inspired by examining the numerous examples that are posted on the creators’ site, or search Twitter for more examples, looking for the #PaintsChainer hashtag.

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