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Wireless Networking - WPA Vs WEP

Author : sharath reddy

Theoretically, the concept of wireless networking is extremely simple. It is all about installing the adapter of a wireless network in your computer! You need not worry about running cables and drilling holes anymore. But, majority of people often get confused between WPA and WEP connectivity. To choose the best option, it is very necessary for you to first understand the pros and cons of WEP and WPA. WEP, which stands for "Wired Equivalent Privacy" was introduced in the year 1999. WPA or "Wi-Fi Protected Access", on the other hand, was launched by Wi-Fi Alliance in the latter half of 2003. WPA is considered to be the next generation of WLAN security and a much better option than WEP in terms of security.

Designed to replace WEP, WAP networking is an answer to all the following weaknesses of WEP. To activate the Wi-Fi Protected Access, you need not make any hardware upgrades in the 802.11 equipment. You just have to upgrade the firmware and software. So, before discussing the benefits of WPA and the reasons why it is better than WEP, here is a list of the major WEP weaknesses -

1) With an initialization vector (IV) of 24 bits, you can have a maximum of just 16.7 million combinations.
2) The fact that the same initialization vector (IV) can be put into use several times makes WEP extremely vulnerable to any collision-based attack.
3) In case of WEP, the temporary keys are not used. You are required to make use of the master keys directly.
4) Majority of users do not care to change the keys, making the encryption susceptible to hacker attacks.

How is WPA better than WEP?

Following are the various features that make WPA more advantageous than WEP networking -

1) WPA has an amazing feature for checking message integrity.
2) In case of WPA, you need not use the master keys directly. This makes the connectivity more secure.
3) IV keys are not reused. This encryption method provides much better security.
4) Unlike WEP, WPA has a 48-bit IV, which enables nearly 500 trillion key combinations.

Taking all the aforementioned features into account, WPA is clearly a better solution than WEP networking, especially in terms of security. There are a lot of other things that you must be aware of with regard to wireless networking. Besides getting answers to how WPA works, what are its weaknesses, and what are the possible alternatives, you can also keep an eye on the latest updates on networking. To get answers to all your doubts, you may go to online forums and discuss your concerns and issues with other people.

One such online forum for you is - A free to use site with lots of technical Articles, Tips, Blogs, Questions, and Solutions related to IT software and hardware.

Browse through Wireless Networking Details to understand all the nuts and bolts of networking.

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Browse through Wireless Networking Details to understand all the nuts and bolts of networking.

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Tags:   wireless, networking

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Submitted : 2012-03-17    Word Count : 497    Times Viewed: 2008