How does the password that we enter (to connect to a wireless network) encrypt the data on the wireless network?

Through my reading I am not sure if the password that we enter is the same as the passphrase. If that is right then how can the passphrase generate the four WEP keys?

I understand how the four keys work in WEP and how they encrypt the data. Also, I know how WPA's keys encrypt the data but the only thing I have to know is:

What is the benefit of the password that we enter to get access to the network, and how does this password help in encrypting the data?

1 Answer 1


I'm sorry you're going to have to clarify what/which passwords and keys you are talking about. And what you mean by password to get access to the network?

WEP and WPA-PSK are not related in their use of passwords. You mention the 4 WEP keys and that you understand them. Each key is unrelated, only one is used to encrypt any given message. The sender indicates which key with a two bit field in the on-air message. This was a "feature" to allow 4 independent passwords for a single SSID. It was not consistently implemented.

Typically you give the wireless configuration the key or password needed to authenticate. 802.11 has an authentication exchange that can test the key, and it was used by WEP. But it was shown not to be effective and is not used by WPA protocols. Instead they uses a process called the 4-way handshake to authenticate and establish the temporal encryption keys.

The Wikipedia pages for WEP and 802.11i give a complete discussion with diagrams.

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