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The Impact of (WEP) Encryption on 802.11b Wireless LAN Performance

  • ID: 30030
  • Report
  • November 2002
  • Region: Global
  • The Tolly Group
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Net architects need a basic understanding of the impact of WEP on the performance of high-demand Wlan applications, such as file transfers. This report identifies performance issues when running Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) on 802.11b LANs. 802.11b access points and NICs from these companies: Cisco Systems, Inc Orinoco 3Com Corp. and D-Link Systems, Inc were tested.

While wireless LANs that support the Ieee 802.11b standard are able to deliver a maximum throughput on a LAN segment of about 6 Mbit/s, that throughput expectation does not account for the possible impact that security, such as the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) technology, has once it is enabled on the network. In this report The Tolly Group examines what impact, if any, that WEP has on 802.11b throughput and what security-related factors come into play to influence achieved throughput rates.

Everyone knows that security (as in encryption) is a must for wireless LANs. With shareware programs like NetStumbler, anyone armed with a laptop can link up to your access point (AP) and “join” your network and/or sniff the wireless portion of it.

While WEP is known to have flaws (it can be cracked), it is far better than nothing, sufficient for most non-government corporate needs and at least provides a first layer in a multi-layer security strategy. Consider it the first line of defense.

But WEP is cryptography and crypto consumes resources (time and CPU power). And, there are three key lengths (40 bit/128 bit/256 bit). The longer the key length the “more” secure the data, but the downside is the additional resources that are consumed.

This report benchmarks applications that are known to stress the network and thus the client and AP “ends” of the Wlan. Tests were conducted using standard 802.11b protocols (rated at 11 Mbit/s) and, for D-Link, in its proprietary “Turbo” mode (rated at 22 Mbit/s). All research data is based upon hands-on testing of representative 802.11b products.
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
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Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown