What's what in security

WEP. The Wired Equivalent Privacy protocol provides basic wireless encryption security and is probably sufficient for most home and small-office users. It provides various levels of encryption, from 40- to 128-bit for 802.11b and 802.11g and up to 152-bit for 802.11a.

WEP's main weakness is that it doesn't support key management, the automatic exchange of encryption keys. WEP requires keys to be changed manually, a process that is too lengthy and inefficient for large environments.

IPSec. IPSec is a stronger security measure than WEP and the basis for a number of encryption techniques. The Data Encryption Standard is now considered too vulnerable to hackers to be effective. Triple DES roughly doubles the effectiveness of DES. The next step, Advanced Encryption Standard, will be included in the forthcoming 802.11i standard.

WPA. WiFi Protected Access is an interim measure to protect wireless networks until 802.11i is ratified. It periodically generates a new key for each client using the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol.

802.11x. A precursor to 802.11i, 802.11x attempts to establish a dialogue between the AP and client in which the client uses a log-in and password.

802.11i. The forthcoming 802.11i standard initially will use TKIP for its encryption, then move to AES. It will support 802.11a, b and g, supplant 802.11x, and be backward-compatible with WiFi gear.

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