2 Replies Latest reply: Sep 22, 2008 8:31 PM by Duane
J. Christopher Edwards Level 2 Level 2 (215 points)
I'm trying to get a grasp on the difference between WEP, WPA, WPA Personal, etc. and Hex vs. ASCII.

If I am using WPA Personal, how many characters does it need it be? WPA? WEP? My Linksys router will ask for a Passphrase Then create a very long string of numbers and letters. Do I use the passphrase or the long string? What's the difference?

Any help would be great.

MacBook Pro 1.8 gHz, Mac OS X (10.4.8)
  • Duane Level 10 Level 10 (117,955 points)
    You can read about WPA at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-FiProtectedAccess

    You can read about WEP at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiredEquivalentPrivacy

    Hexadecimal is just another representation of the ASCII characters. You can convert between them using tools like www.asciitable.com/

    The text string you enter into the Linksys is the same string you enter into your Mac or PC.
  • Tesserax Level 8 Level 8 (49,260 points)
    I'm trying to get a grasp on the difference between WEP, WPA, WPA Personal, etc. and Hex vs. ASCII.


    WEP is the oldest and least secure and WPA2 is the newest and most secure method of wireless encryption used on Wi-Fi networks.

    Different manufacturers may use slightly different nomenclature when providing wireless encryption choices with the wireless routers ... and somethings the same manufacturer will change their naming standard when they introduce new models.

    Starting with WEP. WEP comes in two flavors: 40(64)-bit or 104(128)-bit. The password or keys used with WEP can either be comprised of ASCII or HEX characters ... or a passphrase. WEP is no longer considered secure and in all practicality should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. WEP is also troublesome when using mixed (AirPort & non-AirPort) equipment as manufacturers tend to not use the exact same standard when it comes to passwords. On 802.11b/g AirPorts, you can choose either WEP 40-bit or WEP 128-bit. On 802.11n AirPorts, when operating in one of the "n" radio modes, you now have the option for WEP (Transitional Security Network). This mode allow both WEP and WPA/WPA2 clients to connect.

    WPA also goes by WPA-PSK or WPA Personal. WPA uses either a passphrase that is comprised of 8 to 63 characters or a fixed-length of 64 Hex characters. These can include special characters and spaces. WPA uses TKIP for encryption. WPA requires, as a minimum, either OS 10.3 or Windows XP w/SP1.

    WPA2 also goes by WPA2-PSK or WPA2 Personal. WPA2, like WPA, uses either a passphrase or a fixed-length Hex key. However, WPA2 uses either TKIP or AES for encryption. WPA2 requires, as a minimum, either OS X 10.3.3 or Windows XP w/SP2.

    If I am using WPA Personal, how many characters does it need it be?


    Between 8 and 63 characters.

    WPA?


    The same as WPA Personal.

    WEP?


    ASCII:
    For 40(64)-bit: 5 ASCII characters
    For 104(128)-bit: 13 ASCII characters

    HEX:
    For 40(64)-bit: 10 hexadecimal digits
    For 104(128)-bit: 26 hexadecimal digits

    My Linksys router will ask for a Passphrase Then create a very long string of numbers and letters. Do I use the passphrase or the long string?


    One of the problems with WEP is that the actual standard relies on a 10 character HEX key for 40bit WEP and a 26 character HEX key for 128bit WEP.

    In order to make things easier, vendors use certain algorithms to convert simple alphanumeric passwords (or passphrases) into HEX keys, thus enabling the use of simple easy to remember WEP password rather than lengthy HEX keys. The problem is that different vendors use different algorithms to generate the HEX key and therefore a ASCII password on an AEBS will be hashed differently on a non-Apple client and vice versa.

    You may find the following articles helpful:
    o Accessing a Airport Network with a Windows XP PC or laptop (with XP SP2)
    o Apple article, especially the part about "Third-party client to Airport".