What are the advantages of WEP versus WPA?


Quick Answer

WEP, short for Wired Equivalent Privacy, has the advantage of being more widely used and more backwards compatible in comparison to WPA. In September 1999, WEP became the very first Wi-Fi security standard to be ratified. From the very beginning, WEP was built to be a weak security standard as strong restrictions on cryptographic technologies were still being enforced in the U.S. when the standard first came out.

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Full Answer

When WEP first came out, it was only a 64-bit encryption protocol. Several revisions to the WEP standard were made once the restrictions were lifted, increasing it to 128-bit and 256-bit encryption. Multiple attempts were made to strengthen the WEP algorithm and increase its key size for added security.

However, because the technology is inherently flawed, it remained easy to crack. In 2005, the FBI gave a public demonstration of the compromised nature of the WEP standard when they cracked WEP passwords in minutes using consumer hardware and freely available software.

WEP was retired by the Wi-Fi Alliance in 2004 in favor of WPA and WPA2, which addressed not only the security issues of WEP but also its difficulty of configuration. Unless very dated Wi-Fi devices that only support the WEP standard need to be connected to the network, these later standards should always be used.

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