Wireless Security: WEP vs. WPA Encryption

Wireless Security: WEP VS. WPA

Wireless routers allow your computer to connect to the Internet by using radio waves to carry network traffic back and forth. However, the radio signal is broadcast in all directions, and anyone within range may be able to use your connection with their wireless-capable computer.

In order to lock down your wireless connection and prevent unauthorized use, encryption can be put in place. By default, all wireless modems sold by TOAST.net have wireless encryption enabled. Third party wireless routers plugged into TOAST.net modems may need to have encryption activated in order to be secure.

There are two main kinds of wireless encryption: WEP (Wired Equivalency Protocol), and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). TOAST.net recommends the use of WPA encryption whenever possible. The difference between the two is described below:

WEP Encryption- requires a "key", or wireless password, to be created consisting of hexadecimal characters (hexadecimal characters are the letters A-F and numbers 0-9). There are two types of WEP keys: a 64 bit key and a 128 bit key.

  • A 64-Bit WEP key will have 10 characters
  • A 128-Bit WEP key will have 26 characters

WEP encryption is used with older devices or computers (Windows ME and lower, Apple OS 9.x and lower). While WEP does offer some protection from unauthorized use, it is not a foolproof method of securing your network and should not be used in mission critical situations.

WPA Encryption- Requires a "key", or wireless password, to be created using letters, numbers, or symbols. WPA keys must be at least 8 characters in length. There are two types of WPA encryption:

  • WPA offers a standard level of wireless security.
  • WPA2 offers enhanced security.

WPA encryption requires the use of Windows XP w/ Service Pack 2, Vista, or Mac OSX. Earlier versions of Windows do not offer WPA support. WPA2 requires compatible hardware, as well as Windows XP w/ Service Pack 3, or Vista.

There are also several styles of WPA encryption available. For the greatest compatibility, choose TKIP or PSK mode. AES mode can also be used and will offer the highest level of security, but your wireless hardware has to specifically support AES encryption

To configure your TOAST.net Wireless Modem settings, click on the appropriate link below:

Zoom X6 DSL Modem Setup

Netopia Wireless Gateway Setup Guide