WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), also known as Wireless Equivalent Privacy, is designed to protect data on a wireless network because data transmitted by radio wave can be easily intercepted. A key must be set in the wireless access point and when a user connects to the access point, he has to enter the same key to connect to the Internet. WEP can provide a security level comparable to cable networks.
WEP encrypts data from wireless access points with a shared key that contains 40 to 256 bits. The longer the key, the more difficult it is to crack and the higher security it offers.
With the increasing computing capability of a PC, WEP, which uses a fixed encryption key, becomes vulnerable to be attacked. Hence, the Wi-Fi Alliance developed WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) /WPA2 standard based on WEP.
WPA uses TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) that dynamically changes the key for each packet during transmission. With a 128-bit key, WPA offers a higher level of security than WEP. WPA provides data protection via user authentication, encryption and packet inspection. It also improves wireless network management. WPA2 indicates compliance with an advanced protocol that implements the full standard. In addition, WPA defines the use of AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) as an additional replacement for WEP encryption.