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Wired equivalent privacy

(also WEP)

Wired equivalent privacy definition

Wired equivalent privacy (WEP) is a security protocol used to protect data transmitted over wireless networks. It was one of the earliest methods of securing Wi-Fi connections, but it had significant security vulnerabilities. It’s now considered obsolete but may still be used in some cases.

See also: WPA key, WEP crack

WEP history

Wired equivalent privacy (WEP) was introduced in 1997 as one of the first protocols to provide WLANs with security and privacy. However, it had many security flaws, so experts discouraged its use from the early 2000s. In 2004, the protocol was officially retired, with more effective standards taking over its place (such as WPA). However, some companies may still be using it in cases where the devices are too old to support new encryption methods.

Common WEP security issues

  • WEP uses a short encryption key — either 40 or 104 bits in length. This short key makes it vulnerable to brute-force attacks, where attackers can guess the key by trying different variations many times.
  • WEP uses predictable initialization vectors (random numbers used in encryption processes to add extra security).
  • WEP relies on the RC4 encryption algorithm, which has known security flaws that attackers can easily exploit.
  • WEP uses static (unchanging) encryption keys, making it difficult to update or change keys when needed for security.
  • WEP uses open system authentication, allowing any device to try to connect without proper verification. This lack of authentication makes it easier for unauthorized users to access the system.
  • WEP encrypts data but doesn't ensure the integrity of the data. Attackers can modify data packets in transit without detection.