WiFi network security types

WiFi networks provide the convenience of staying connected without a wired Ethernet connection. However, WiFi can create security risks, including potential cyber attacks. This is why wireless encryption is important. These protocols are in place to secure your network and protect your data from hackers.

The security settings for your wireless network will typically show encryption choices of WPA2 and WPA3. These differ in speed, performance, and the level of protection they offer. For most users today, WPA3 is the best option, with the most secure method of encryption. 

How to select the encryption type on your network

To set up WPA3 or WPA2 security on a CenturyLink modem:

  1. While connected to your home WiFi network, open a web browser and type into the URL field. This will bring you to your modem settings portal.

  2. Sign in to the modem portal with your admin username and password. These are printed on the sticker that is affixed to the bottom or side of your modem.

  3. Select the Wireless Setup icon from the menu.

  4. Depending on your model of modem, you will find the encryption settings in either Basic Wireless Setup or the Wireless Security section. You can see screenshots of the two versions below.

Wireless Security menu

Wireless security - type 1

Basic Wireless Setup menu

Wireless security - type 2

5. Select WPA3 – Personal (recommended) or WPA2 – Personal from the dropdown menu for Security Type.

While you’re there, consider changing your WiFi security key to a strong, unique password. This will further protect your WiFi network from potential intruders.

6. Select Apply to save your changes.

WPA2 vs. WPA3

Let's compare the two most common, and secure encryption types that you may see in your modem's security options.


WiFi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) – WPA3 was released in 2018, and is now the standard encryption. It provides enhanced protection for your passwords and data, and also makes it easier to connect smart home devices.


WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) – Not long after WPA came out, WPA2 became available. WPA2 solved many of the issues of WPA, and provides stronger security with easier setup. Until 2018, WPA2 was considered the top standard in encryption types. WPA3 has since taken its place.

Security types and WiFi standards of top CenturyLink modems

Modem Model
Security Type
WiFi Standard
C4000 WPA3 WiFi 6
C3510XZ WPA2-PSK WiFi 6
C3000Z WPA2-PSK WiFi 6
C2300A WPA2-AES WiFi 5
PK5000Z WPA2 802.11b/g/n
C2100 WPA2-AES WiFi 5
C424G WPA2-AES WiFi 5
C844G WPA2-AES WiFi 5

Older encryption types

Prior to 2004, the encryption types available were WEP and WPA.


Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) – This was the first-ever security protocol, used from 1999 to 2004, which makes it the oldest type. Though WEP was designed to protect networks, it had poor security and was difficult to configure. A WiFi network using WEP today is considered the least secure and should be upgraded or replaced in order to protect your internet activity.


WiFi Protected Access (WPA) – As an improvement on WEP, WPA was created in 2003, and offers more secure encryption for your WiFi network, but still isn’t considered the best security option. Why? Some elements of WEP were kept as part of WPA to allow for compatibility with older devices. This means WPA has similar vulnerabilities to WEP and can be hacked more easily than its successor, WPA2.

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