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Everything You Need to Know about Wireless Encryption Protocol

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/19/2010

Wireless Encryption Protocol or the Wired Equivalent Privacy is used to protect IEEE 802.11 wireless networks. This article offers an overview of the protocol and explains how to add it to your wireless network.

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    Wireless Encryption Protocol – An Introduction

    Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is better known as Wireless Encryption Protocol. The protocol was designed for offering security to wireless networks. WEP was initially built to offer almost the same level of security to the wireless networks as other protocols offer to the wired ones. It offers a widely supported security base for your networks but most of them are still susceptible as WEP is often disabled on local wireless systems. Though widely used, the Wireless Encryption Protocol or WEP, is not fully secure.

    Even on networks that have active wireless encryption protocol, the chances of being compromised are high. Experienced hackers can easily break into the WEP security systems. Most of the modern wireless devices such as wireless routers, wireless Internet modems etc. carry the provision of using the protocol to offer a minimum level of protection. The second section will discuss how to turn on the WEP security on your wireless routers.

    Beginning the decade 2000, there was a rise in software capable of decrypting the WEP security. To counter this, IEEE came up with Wi-Fi protected access. This is popularly known as WPA. Soon after, another advancement of WPA was released under the name of WPA2. Though the WPA is based on the weaknesses of WEP, there is much difference among WEP, WPA, and WPA2. To be more precise, WPA is more oriented towards Wi-Fi connections and hotspots while WEP is concerned with the low level protection of data travelling through the different devices on any type of wireless network. These include routers, wireless data cards, and Wi-Fi devices as well.

    Summarizing the difference in these protocols, WPA and WPA2 offer better protection to Wi-Fi connections while WEP is concerned with all kinds of wireless network components. If you cannot implement WPA2 or WPA on a network device, you can still use WEP to get minimal protection against eavesdropping (type of hacking). The article by Lamar Stonecypher here on Bright Hub, “WEP, WPA and WPS – Which to use” further clarifies the role played by WEP in your wireless networks. It also offers a review of the Wi-Fi security protocols.


    1. For technical details on Wireless Encryption Protocol and its Authentication methods, please refer to our article on “What is WEP” by Lashan Clarke.
    2. Wi-Fi is different from Bluetooth and WPA is not applicable to the latter.

    More on Wireless Encryption Protocol:

    If interested, you may want to read the following articles for more information on Wireless Encryption Protocol:

    The next section explains how to activate WEP and WPA on your wireless router.

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    Applying Wireless Encryption Protocol to Network

    It is not a tough task to activate the Wireless Encryption Protocol on your wireless router. To activate WEP or WPA2, follow these steps:

    1. Connect the router to your computer.
    2. Open a browser and type in the IP address of your router in the address bar of the browser. For most routers, it is or If you are not able to access the router settings, you can refer to the router manual for the exact IP address of your router.
    3. Once you have the router settings page, select the Security tab. Check out if you have WPA or WEP listed.
    4. If you have WPA listed under Security tab, go for it by selecting WPA Encryption. Else, if only WEP is listed, select WEP encryption.
    5. Save and close the browser. If prompted for the security password, enter a password to enable the WPA/WEP encryption.

    Please note that most routers have common configuration settings so you should be able to configure your router’s security settings per above steps. If you are unable to find the Security settings to enable the Wireless Encryption Protocol, please refer to your router manual.