WEP Encryption too Heavy for Pentium 1?

Posted on 2005-05-06
Last Modified: 2010-04-10
Hi all,

Well I have a wireless access point at home which is used as a router to connect to the internet. Two PCs connect to it wirelessly while the 3rd connects via standard ethernet cabling. I have enabled 128bit encryption on the AP.

Till recently I didn't put the third PC on the wireless network as it is a Pentium 1 233Mhz with 64MB RAM running Win98 and I didn't think it worth spending alot of money on a wireless nic for such a machine. Until recently that is when I came across a nic going cheap. So I decided to put the Pentium 1 on the wireless network too.

All went well no problems were encountered. However downloads/browsing were extremely slow even though the connection was strong and supposedly at 54Mbps. As soon as I disabled encryption the connection was running at the speed I expected. Is it possible that the decryption process is so heavy that a Pentium 1 can't handle it or am I missing something? The other machines on the network are a P3 and an AMD Ahtlon XP. Both machines connect fine.

Thanks in advance

Question by:Ktoshni
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    Hi Ktoshni,

    No I don't believe that to be the case as WEP is a Shared Key Authenciation Protocol and not actually an data encryption protocol like DES, 3DES & AES.

    And to tell you the truth, I would change WEP to WPA or WPA2 if your AP supports it as I could crack your WEP shared key in about 30 minutes.
    LVL 24

    Accepted Solution

    WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy, and IS an encrypting protocol - the shared keys are what are used to encrypt the data.

    Some network cards use the CPU to help with certain tasks, such as encryption/decryption.  Most cheaper wireless LAN cards would use the CPU to do this - in fact, I don't know many that have encryption/decryption chips built in.  The result of your test pretty much concludes that your card certainly is using the processor to decrypt/encrypt packets, and it seems it is not powerful enough to do this.  More memory may help, but not necessarily.

    Author Comment

    Thanks guys. purplepomegranite I'll be giving you the points. Pretty much what I was thinking but I still find it a little shocking that a P1 cant cope with the decryption. Bad software design maybe? Well what annoyed me the most is that there are no minmum system requirements on the box and just that it supports OS versions from Win98 to XP. The other 2 NICs I have mentioned minimum system requirements. Oh well, I'll have to keep it wired then.

    markgrinceri - I know WEP isn't very strong but is it possible it's that weak? I'm using 128 bit encryption not 64

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