WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy. It is an encryption algorithm, which was built in the 802.11 standard, that aims to provide security for wireless networks. The 802.11 standard is followed by Wi-Fi technologies and is a set of specifications for wireless Ethernet.
WEP makes use of specific technologies to perform its calculations for encryption. WEP uses the RC4 stream cipher, which encrypts text one bit at a time. This stream cipher enhances the confidentiality of data being transferred on the network. In relation to this, WEP uses an initialization vector for its computations. WEP also uses the CRC-32 (Cyclic Redundancy Check) to achieve data integrity.
A WEP Key is generated through a set of processes. WEP key generation begins when an ASCII passphrase is entered. The system does a set of steps for verification. Afterwards, the WEP key is generated and can be accessed by the user. Most Wi-Fi devices support the said procedure. However, certain Wi-Fi devices have problems in using ASCII passphrases. For these devices, individuals can use the hexadecimal version of the WEP key.
Although WEP is applied in many wireless networks, it poses certain issues with regard to security. Network administrators of certain wireless systems choose to disable WEP due to the large overhead of having a shared WEP key. The initialization vector that is used to provide the WEP algorithm is normally sent in the clear. This makes tracing problems difficult when they do take place. The CRC-32 checksum produced in WEP systems is oftentimes predictable, heightening the possibility of unauthorized access.