Wireless Equivalent Privacy or WEP is a coding system typically used for safeguarding wireless networks from illegal access. Knowing how to break WEP encryption will require some basic skills on the computer. It can be handy especially if you want to check if your wireless system's security is indeed adequately protected and safe from hackers' intrusion.
1. Download a packet sniffer.
As we all know, computers connected in a wireless network are supplied with wireless LAN cards so as to exchange packets of data with each other. To know if this exchange is indeed guarded by WEP encryption, install a packet sniffer on your computer. A packet sniffing software has the capacity to intercept data being passed to and from several computers in a wireless network and as such will be a good program to use to gauge the effectiveness of the WEP encryption. There are numerous packet sniffers on the Web and some can even be downloaded for free.
2. Install the packet sniffer program.
Some packet sniffing programs like Kismet and Airsnort come in the form of source codes. This essentially means that you will need to have the necessary knowledge to compile these source codes to be able to use them in the first place. If you do not know how to do so, then choose a packet sniffer software application that comes with an installer. Walk through instructions are usually provided to assist you in the process of installation.
3. Create an access point for the test.
To do this, you may need your network administrator's permission to avoid any problems. For purposes of testing the packet sniffer, create a wireless access point that is almost the same with the one currently being used in your network.
4. Provide an IP address.
The test wireless access point should be given an Internet Protocol (IP) address which can be acquired from available pools in your wireless network. Afterwards, open a Web browser and type in the chosen IP address on the Web address field. After that, access the WEP encryption module by clicking on the Security tab, enter the WEP code and click on Save. Finally, close the web browser window.
5. Link the test computer to the wireless access point.
On the test computer, access the new wireless network maintenance application. If the test computer was connected correctly, the network will show up on the computer. Connect the test computer to that wireless network and key in the exact WEP code.
6. Allow the packet sniffer to do its job.
Open the packet sniffer and give it some time to scan the network and sample the encrypted WEP packets. It would typically take an hour to do the test. If the packet sniffer is effective, it will eventually uncover the WEP encryption code.
If the goal is to audit a network's security then the outlined procedure above is a good way to accomplish this. Remember to ask permission from the network administrator or other authority personnel. Breaking a WEP encryption can be considered illegal and punishable by law. This method should be used with much discretion.