Wired Equivalent Privacy

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What Does Wired Equivalent Privacy Mean?

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) was first released as a portion of the IEEE 802.11 standard in 1999. Its security was deemed to be the equivalent of any wired medium, hence its name. As the years passed, WEP was deemed broken, and it has since been replaced by two other iterations of wireless security protocols, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2.

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Wired Equivalent Privacy is sometimes erroneously referred to as Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP).

Techopedia Explains Wired Equivalent Privacy

WEP employs the Ron’s code stream cipher (RC4), which uses 40- or 104-bit keys and a 24-bit initialization vector. WEP uses a symmetric algorithm, which means that two devices must share a secret key in order to communicate securely with one another. The problem with WEP involves the use of the 24-bit initialization vector, which will sometimes repeat itself during transmission. In the world of cryptography, randomization and non-repudiation of the initialization vector is paramount as this prevents the guessing of certain text within a transmission. If a hacker begins to see that certain encrypted text is repeating itself, he can then begin to assume that the repeated text is the same word, and decipher the message without any knowledge of the shared secret key.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.