Wireless questions – WEP, WPA and WPA2 problems and setup



Question:

Hello, i read your web page regarding this issue [wireless network security basics and setting up WPA and WPA2] and i have a problem. Recently i purchased a laptop (Asus G2S-A1) with Windows XP SP2 and a router (NetGear WPN 824). While i am able to connect to my network using “open-WEP”, i cannot connect with WPA. Router has the capabilities and firmware is up to date and laptop has the options for WPA or WPA2 but when i choose that option it just keeps searching for address and it shows IP as invalid and DNS as zeroes i believe. So the question is how come i cant use WPA but can WEP even thou all hardware is new.

Also i noticed that when i choose WEP and set my keys (26 digit, yes i know it doesnt help much) when i set those keys in laptops wireless connections, when i check them again, it shows them as 8 character, how is that possible (i am afraid that it is maybe defaulting to maybe “password”).

Do i use “keys sent to me automatically”?

What is the passphrase for, i set it up for the router but than i never use it on laptop, also i dont recall setting up keys for WPA in the router, it just asks for passphrase (that i dont use) but laptop asks for keys (which i dont set up on router).

I know this is a lot of questions and some of them probably sound stupid to you but i just dont want other people to surf all over my hard drive and emails, can you help?

Answer:

Sounds like you have several questions. Let’s break them down:

Question 1 – WPA capability on Windows XP:

Router has the capabilities and firmware is up to date and laptop has the options for WPA or WPA2 but when i choose that option it just keeps searching for address and it shows IP as invalid and DNS as zeroes i believe. So the question is how come i cant use WPA but can WEP even thou all hardware is new.

Your hardware is up to date, but your software might not be, even if you have Windows XP with SP2. Make sure you’ve installed the Windows XP WPA2 patch. You may not be able to connect with WPA2 in XP without it. Per Microsoft: “This update to Windows XP provides support for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)

Question 2 – Password length:

Also i noticed that when i choose WEP and set my keys (26 digit, yes i know it doesnt help much) when i set those keys in laptops wireless connections, when i check them again, it shows them as 8 character, how is that possible (i am afraid that it is maybe defaulting to maybe “password”).

That’s a “feature” in Windows – when you set a wireless password, no matter how long the password is – when you look at it later you’ll see something like “********”. Don’t worry, it’s the original password you typed in, even if what you typed is longer than 8 digits.

Question 3 – WEP key transmission:

Do i use “keys sent to me automatically”?

(I assume this is the feature used with the “Default Transmit Key“.) Yes. But you’ll have to also type the key into your PC when your PC wants to connect.

Question 4 – Key passphrase:

What is the passphrase for, i set it up for the router but than i never use it on laptop, also i dont recall setting up keys for WPA in the router, it just asks for passphrase (that i dont use) but laptop asks for keys (which i dont set up on router).

This is a method that will allow you to generate WEP keys easier. Instead of coming up with a 26-digit password, you can type in an easy-to-remember shorter word, and the router will build a long key out of your short word. You don’t have to use this WEP passphrase – it’s not required – you could just as easily type a bunch of random characters for the 26-digit password. Below is a picture demonstrating this, taken from a Linksys wireless router (a Linksys WRT54G):

The WEP passphrase allows you to generate WEP keys easily

The passphrase is only used for WEP key generation, not WPA or WPA2.

Finally, after answering all these questions about WEP, it should be noted that WEP is easily hacked – at the time of this writing, WPA2 is the secure wireless way to go.

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One Comment

  1. Tony:

    Hello,

    I installed a Lynksis WRT120N router. The router configured ok and is secure. The trouble is, two laptops with Windows XP could not log on. A macbook pro laptop logged on with no problems. Could you advise me what to do next?

    Thanks,
    Tony