By default, 802.11standard does not offer security, but it allows for optional encryption using WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). WEP uses keys both to authenticate network clients and to encrypt data in transit. When configuring WEP, you establish a character string required to associate with the AP, also known as the network key. When the client detects the presence of the AP, the user is prompted to provide a network key before the client can gain access to a network via the AP.
The early implementation of WEP allowed for 64-bit keys, which was not so secure. Current versions allows for 128-bit keys, which are relatively more secure. However, WEP’s use of shared and static keys is still more susceptible to discovery than a dynamically generated, random, or single-use key, which is adopted by the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and will be introduced in the next section.