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WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is worse than useless, because it gives people a false sense of security, which is worse than knowing your network setup is insecure.

More seriously, it is network-level encryption specified in the 802.11 standard that scrambles the data transmitted data up at the transmitting end and descrambles it at the other. It uses standard secret-key (symmetric) encryption at keylengths of 40, 64, and 128 bits (though some recent products have extended this to 256 bits). You can use it by enabling through your card or AP configuration tool, and specify a password for the network you want to secure.

Theoretically, if you don't know the key that the network is using anybody eavesdropping on your network would only be able to pick up gibberish. Unfortunately, eavesdroppers *can* get around WEP - read on.

We aren't using it, and you shouldn't either for your own private networks, for the following reasons:

* For MW purposes, any "secret" key would have to be known to everybody in MW and thus is not much of a secret!
* WEP is known to reduce bandwidth on many cards.
* Even if this weren't the case, WEP's design is flawed and there are readily available tools that can listen in on a network and determine the key within a few hours or, at most, a few days. Correction minimum of 15mins to an hour see External linkTom's Networking Guide to WEP cracking.
* If you need to secure your data, you should use software application-level security such as a VPN, email encryption like PGP, logging to machines you can use SSH, and so on, which don't have such known flaws. As any are found, they can be fixed by a software update rather than requiring to to replace your network card (or, at the very least, do a firmware upgrade).

802.11i is supposed to fix WEP's flaws and provide proper security.

Version 2 (current) modified Tue, 03 Jul 2007 23:12:22 +1000 by stev391
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