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I recently purchased a new laptop that would connect wirelessly, but with no Internet access to a Tenda Wireless N router. Tech support told me it was an ISP DNS error (yeah right). However, I ticked the "enable FIPS" box and now everything is hunky dory!

Why is that? What does FIPS have to do here?

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Always blaming somebody else... –  ppumkin Jan 27 '12 at 11:26
    
The reason it work was that your wireless access point was set to a mode where this was required. You don't describe if you enabled it on the operating system side or within the configuration page for the router. Be sure to disable WPS support. –  Ramhound Jan 27 '12 at 13:19
    
Thanks Ramhound, but I also have 2 Blackberrys, one Iphone, one Ipad and a sony Vaio laptop on Windows 7 all working without FIPS? –  PFCGAZ Jan 29 '12 at 16:35
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2 Answers

FIPS is a set of cryptographic requirements used by US government. If it is related to wireless it simply disables (weaker) TKIP encryption for WPA and WPA2 in favour of CCMP (aka AES). It might happen that some older WPA1-TKIP clients need a firmware update to connect there (or reduction of security of your AP if no update at hand) One example of problem device is older samsung android phones. Flashing any aftermarket firmware will give them new wireless life.

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Thanks for the answer, so you think that if i disabled/weakened encryption, I could connect with FIPS disabled? –  PFCGAZ Jan 27 '12 at 11:33
    
If you disable FIPS you allow some insecurity and some compatibility with old clients. I would recommend to leave it on unless some device you own is unable to connect. –  ZaB Jan 27 '12 at 13:14
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From the little I know about FIPS I think it is some kind of encryption, Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS).

The United States Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) defines security and interoperability requirements for computer systems that the U.S. federal government uses. The FIPS 140 standard defines approved cryptographic algorithms. The FIPS 140 standard also sets forth requirements for key generation and for key management. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) uses the Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP) to determine whether a particular implementation of a cryptographic algorithm is compliant with the FIPS 140 standard. An implementation of a cryptographic algorithm is considered FIPS 140 compliant only if it has been submitted for and has passed NIST validation. An algorithm that has not been submitted cannot be considered FIPS compliant even if the implementation produces identical data as a validated implementation of the same algorithm.

In some scenarios, an application may use non-approved algorithms or processes while the application operates in a FIPS-compliant mode. For example, the use of non-approved algorithms may be allowed in the following scenarios: Some internal processes stay within the computer. Some external data is to be additionally encrypted by a FIPS-compliant implementation.

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