WEP, or Wired Equivalent Privacy, is the name of the original technology for securing a wireless network. The name is at the very best commendable but at the very least extremely misleading. The technology never came close to the goal of securing wireless networks to a level that could be considered ‘equivalent’ to its hard-wired cousin.WEP is a key-matching encryption protocol that uses a pass key for every client that wants access to the wireless network. This key must be an identical match in order to be granted a right to use the network resources. If this key does not exactly match, then the user is simply unable to login to the network.The technology itself is not inherently bad. It is the way that WEP is implemented. It is fairly easy for someone unauthorized to gain access to the network by figuring out the network key. once this key is obtained, they can login as any other person with permission to use the network granting them access to the resources or receiving all the information sent across the wireless network and even decipher it without you knowing that they are thereAny snoop with a personal computer with wireless ability can download easy-to-use hacker tools and utilities that will enable anyone, not just a sophisticated hacker, to gain access to a WEP protected network.The supposed and assumed strength of WEP is in the pass key. It can be up to 128-bits in length thus giving the impression that it will be very difficult for anyone to guess the pass-key. Technically, this is correct. It would be virtually impossible for someone to ‘guess’ this key. But as stated, there are software utilities that can ‘sniff’ the air for wireless signals, analyzed the type of network, intercept the stream of data and decrypt the pass key without any user intervention.
Some say that utilizing WEP with another tool included on my wireless devices such as a MAC address inclusion/exclusion option will give you the added level of security needed. again, this is another assumption gone wrong. just like the software tools that will decipher the pass key, there are utilities that can generate false MAC addresses to overcome this feature.Should you use WEP? well, I guess that if you are choosing using WEP versus absolutely no security, it is better than using nothing. and I mean barely better. a good way to think about this is to compare your home’s front entrance. you have a choice between nothing at all and the doorway standing wide open – this is your wireless network with no security protection active. WEP would be similar to you having a screen door that swings closed but has no latch, no lock. Agreed, the doorway is better off now than it was without anything at all. Maybe critters cannot get in but I think you will agree that it is anything but secure.And there is a better way = WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) discussed in my next article.
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