This chapter explains in detail how WEP works and then explains why you shouldn't use it. If you are currently using WEP, this chapter shows why you need to change. When the original IEEE 802.11 standard was published, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) was included as a method to provide secure communications. However, as this chapter describes, WEP fell short of real needs in a number of areas.
The methods of key management were weak and did not scale to large networks. The key length was too small and some vendors introduced extensions to try to "improve the security." The final straw that broke the camel's back was the discovery of an attack that could successfully retrieve the secret keys by traffic monitoring.
It is said that those who don't read history are doomed to repeat it. This chapter provides the history. WEP is an interesting case study in the problems that can occur when security protocols are developed without proper review by security experts. Mostly the chapter is worth reading because it points out so many of the pitfalls that have been overcome in the new methods. Understanding WEP's failings before moving on will help you understand why the next-generation security methods are so much stronger.