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1.5 Do I Need It?
Enabling WEP usually results in the card having to do the encryption and this means slowdown. Some have said there is a huge hit if the encryption takes place with software, and maybe no noticeable hit if the encryption takes place with hardware (Cisco?).
Not only do many other gateways leave WEP off by default, some manufacturers go out of their way to stress that WEP is not required and could slow down network performance. But according to Microsoft, the performance hit is marginal--about 0.5Mbps with 64-bit encryption and only slightly more with 128-bit.
Whenever you use a wireless connection, you might want to ensure that your communications and files are private and protected. If your transmissions are not secure, it may be possible for others to intercept your e-mails, examine your files and records, and use your network and Internet connection to distribute their own messages and communications.
How secure you want your network to be depends on how you use it. If you're just surfing to do research or watch movies, you may not care if anyone picks up part of the transmission, but that's up to you. Even if you're shopping and purchasing items over the net, those financial transactions are usually protected by Secure Socket Layer (SSL). However, if your data is confidential or if you want additional security, there are several different technologies you can install. Keep in mind that security is a personal decision, but it's almost essential to use at least some level of security as a deterrent to intrusion and interception.
In a home wireless network, you can use a variety of simple security procedures to protect your Wi-Fi connection. These include enabling Wi-Fi Protected Access, changing your password or network name (SSID) and closing your network. However, you can also employ additional, more sophisticated technologies and techniques to further secure your business network.
A substantial number of routers sold in the US today are of the wireless variety, because with rebates, they are often cheaper than the wired kind. Many of these end up in wired-only service. The new owner took it home, plugged it in, and it worked right out of the box. Unfortunately this means that the wireless side configuration was left in the default mode -- so it bears the default SSID, default lack of encryption, default passwords, and default transmitter "on" state.
It is now an insecure wireless access point, and anyone can associate with it. Doing so places them on the new owner's side of his firewall, if any. The new owner is none the wiser. He doesn't have any wireless computers ... so as far as he's concerned, he doesn't use wireless yet.
If this is your situation, read on, learn how to secure your system, and ask in the forum if you have any questions. It's how most of us learned.
There are other considerations. You may be located in an area that is more prone to attacks, for example a college campus or a business center. Or you may be in a more rural area with less population. But this may actually have the reverse effect, if your broadband connection is a popular target because access is scarce.
Security is a personal decision, but the bottom line may be that taking whatever steps you can may cause an attacker to look for an easier target.