What Is WEP Wi-Fi Encryption? Here’s Why You Should NOT Use It

MakeUseOf | 8/22/2019 | Simon Batt
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You’ve probably heard in the past how dangerous WEP encryption is, and that you shouldn’t use it on your home network. What is WEP, and why do people advise against using it?

Let’s break down what WEP means and all of the flaws that come with it.


What Is WEP?

WEP stands for “Wired Equivalent Privacy,” and it’s one of the early-day security protocols for Wi-Fi. When you use Wi-Fi, your computer sends packets of data to your router. If these packets aren’t encrypted, hackers can peek at them and see the data within. This tactic is known as a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack.

Attacks - Article

If you've heard of "man-in-the-middle" attacks but aren't quite sure what that means, this is the article for you.

If the packets are encrypted, then anyone performing a MitM attack on the network will see what you’re sending. That’s what WEP solved; it encrypted your data so people couldn’t peer into the packets.


Why Is WEP Insecure?

To understand WEP’s major flaw, let’s imagine a company that produces puzzle books. These books are renowned for being filled with incredibly tricky puzzles which require a lot of computational power to solve. Due to the extreme difficulty of the book, people like to collaborate to solve the puzzles.

Writers - Book - Content - Readers - Edition

The writers of the book want to fill it with enough content so that they can publish another one before the readers complete the current edition. If the general public solves the book before the book publishers release a new one, they have to get a new book out ASAP.

We can break down the “strength” of each book by these properties:

Complexity - Puzzles - Puzzles - Readers - Time

The complexity of the puzzles. If the puzzles are harder to solve, the readers take more time to crack them. In the first few editions of the book, the puzzles were quite hard; however, after seeing how readers cracked...
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