How to configure WEP

This page explains how to configure WEP security on your wireless network. WEP is the weakest type of encryption the WRT54G router offers. It uses a 64 bit or 128 bit key to secure data traveling the network. The WRT54G router offers stronger types of encryption such as WPA. WPA will be discussed on the next page.

Some facts about WEP.

  • WEP uses a 24 bit initialization vector (IV). The IV is the part of the network key that is generated by the computer.
  • In your router's WEP configuration menu you may be given the option between a 40 bit and a 104 bit network key, instead of 64 bit and 128 bit. That is simply a matter of preference of the creators. Some choose to display the network key lengthminusthe 24 bit initialization vector (IV).
  • Network cards that support 128 bits WEP security can communicate with network cards that use 64 bits WEP security, if de 128 bits card also supports 64 bits WEP security.
  • WEP keys can be encoded in two ways: ASCII or hexadecimal.

Sounds complicated, not? Configuring WEP encryption is not very difficult though. In the paragraphs below I'll show you how to do it.

Configuring WEP on the router

First, let's log on to the router.

  1. Open your internet browser and type in the address bar. This is the default IP address of the browser.
  2. In the login box that appears type 'admin' (without quotes) in both fields. 'admin' is the default username and password.

Write down the SSID

  1. In theWireless > Basic Wireless Settingsmenu you will see the Service Set Identifier or SSID. The SSID differentiates one wireless network from another. It is the 'network name'. Write it down, or copy paste it to a text file. You will need it later. You can first set your own SSID if you like.

In the Linksys WRT54G router you will find the wireless security options underWireless > Wireless Security.This page allows you to set wireless encryption options.


The Wireless Security page allows you to generate a strong network key. Here is how.

  1. Select WEP in thesecurity modedropdown menu.
  2. Set theDefault Transmit Keyto 1
  3. Select 128 bits hex digits from theWEP encryptiondropdown menu.
  4. Enter any phrase or word in thePassphrasefield and press the 'generate' button. The passphrase is just used to generate keys. It has no other purpose.
  5. Copy-paste the first key to a text file or write it down.
  6. ClickSave Settings.

Your computer will now be disconnected from the router. You may see a 'page not found' warning or some other error message in your webbrowser. Your router now demands that computers that connect to it use WEP encryption and the correct WEP key. In other words: you have succesfully secured your network. Now let's configure your computer to reconnect to the router using the right WEP key.

Configuring WEP security in Windows XP SP2

I will show you how to configure WEP using Windows' built-in wireless network options. Most wireless network card manufacturers create have developed their own configuration software that you can use to manage wireless connections and security. You can use whichever software you like best. The settings remain the same. Please note that you will need a computer with a properly installed wireless network card to continue.

  1. In Windows XP go to Start > Settings > Network Connections.
  2. Doubleclick the wireless network connection. The wireless network connections window will appear. This window shows you the wireless networks that are within range. "wireless
  3. If all is right than you should see your wireless network in the list, since your router is advertising your network's SSID to the outside world. In this example I used the word 'kazam' as the SSID.
  4. Clickchange advanced settingsin the bottom-left corner of the window. A new window will appear. Select thewireless networkstab. 'Wireless
  5. Select your network's SSID from the list and click thepropertiesbutton. This will bring up the window that allows you to fill out the network key. 'Encryption
  6. SelectOpenfrom theNetwork Authenticationdropdown and selectWPA-PSKfrom theData encryptionmenu.
  7. Type or rather paste your network key in both thenetwork keyfields at the bottom.
  8. SetKey indexto 1 if it is not already.
  9. The key is provided to me automaticallyshould be turned off as should the lowercomputer-to-computer (ad hoc)option.
  10. Click OK

Your computer should now reconnect to the router using WEP encryption and the proper network key.

Let's conclude with some general tips.

I noticed that sometimes my computer wasn't able to connect using WEP at the first try for no apparent reason. Removing the network connection from the Wireless Network Connection properties menu and adding it again manually fixed these problems.

As I previously stated, you are not obliged to use the built-in Windows software to manage your wireless cards. Most network card vendors offer their own software. What software you use is a matter of preference. Personally I have had good experiences with for example the IBM connection manager on my laptop. It allows you to set different browser profiles for different wireless connections which is great if you connect to networks that use different proxy servers.