hex wep encryption

Discussion in 'Network Routers' started by news.rcn.com, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. news.rcn.com

    news.rcn.com Guest

    I have set up about six routers and have become used to entering a HEX 64
    bit WEP code consisting of 8 alphanumeric characters. Some are upper case,
    some lower case (although this doesn't seem to affect access)

    Suddenly I am using a DELL TrueMobile 1184 router which has had all its
    defaults reset. It has worked OK for a few weeks but I want to encrypt the
    network. It demands that I enter these numbers in boxes of two (I have
    never seen this before)? By coincidence they do all fit and fill all boxes
    but when I enter them, I am told to enter a valid key. Does anyone know
    what is going on or how this unit differs from all others? It does seem to
    have a slightly better range than other WiFi units I have tried (I have
    asked questions about this before and no one seemed to know or care about
    range as if all WiFi routers all have the same range)

    Is a valid key for a Dell router in some way different from other encryption
    news.rcn.com, Dec 16, 2005
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  2. news.rcn.com

    Quaoar Guest

    A true hexadecimal character sequence includes the numerals 0-9 and the
    alpha chars a-f or A-F. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexadecimal

    Quaoar, Dec 16, 2005
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  3. news.rcn.com

    news.rcn.com Guest

    Well mine does and includes all these numbers and characters and no others:
    What am I doing wrong with this Dell unit"
    news.rcn.com, Dec 17, 2005
  4. How many bits set for the key? Some devices don't make it to 128, others
    have higher lengths available. If the number of characters you are entering
    don't match the key strength selected, you might get that message.

    Bill Sanderson, Dec 21, 2005
  5. news.rcn.com

    news.rcn.com Guest

    No, I always had trouble with 128 so I never bothered setting any encryption
    to anything greater than 64. And as I say, the key I have used in the past
    has always worked in this manner
    news.rcn.com, Jan 5, 2006
  6. Upper/lowercase shouldn't matter, but perhaps it does--I've seen mailservers
    where it matters, even though the standards say it should not.

    Are you on the latest firmware from Dell for this device?


    describes the process. It states that the device can do a 128 bit WEP key,
    and needs either a 10 hex character key (40(64)) or a 26 hex character key

    This decision about keystrength based on key length isn't uncommon--I think
    I've seen it before--so the question is why your 8 character key has been
    working for you, I think.

    Bill Sanderson, Jan 6, 2006
  7. news.rcn.com

    news.rcn.com Guest

    Well, while Dell were troubleshooting it on line, they instructed me to
    enter 1234567A just to see if IT worked and it didn't, giving me the same
    "not a valid KEY" error message
    Yes, that was a thought I had and they gave it to me just before throwing up
    their hands in despair at not being able to cure this problem or figure out
    the quirks of their own machine.

    They are currently emailing me telling me how desperately keen they are on
    getting this problem solved and will I please go off and either bother
    someone else or PAY THEM to spend a few more hours on the phone trying again
    to fix this issue (or try a few more wild goose chases, one of which is to a
    number which hasn't got enough digits): Have a laugh at these two:


    Thank you for contacting Dell Hardware Warranty Support.

    I understand that you are facing an issue with your DELL TrueMobile 1184

    I am concerned with the problems you are having with your router and wish to
    resolve them very soon.

    I am sorry to let you know that Dell's support for networking is limited to
    hardware functionality, which seems to be working fine in your case.
    Optimizing the network/internet performance is really beyond the scope of
    assistance that we provide online. For advanced wireless network
    configuration support, please contact 1-800-624-9896 Extn. 66148

    Should you desire any further information or assistance, please do not
    hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to assist you.

    The case number for this interaction is 121589267. The case has been
    documented and the contents of this case are available to all Dell support
    representatives. If you need additional assistance with this issue and you
    utilize our phone or chat support channels, please provide them with this
    case number. For additional assistance via e-mail, simply reply to this

    Thank you for choosing Dell.

    Dell Rep ID # 0172215


    Thank you for contacting Dell Hardware Warranty Support.

    Since the previous email agent is not available today, I am replying to your
    message so that we can solve your problem as quickly as possible.

    I have gone through all the previous email interactions you had with Dell
    technicians and I apologize and truly regret any inconvenience this matter
    may have caused.

    The Dell Limited Warranty provides support to ensure the functionality of
    your Dell hardware. This does not include software usage, "how-to" support
    or support for non-Dell hardware.

    In order to assist you in a resolution, I can refer you to Dell On Call.
    Dell On Call is a fee-based service that provides assistance in software
    usage and can answer questions about non-Dell branded hardware. Dell On Call
    can be reached by calling 866-497-2661. This service is available 7 days a
    week, 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year. Dell On Call offers several
    plans, and I am sure that one of them will meet your technology needs.

    You may alternatively refer to some other resources that are typically
    available at no charge. These may include:

    The Dell Support web site http://support.dell.com
    The Dell Community Forum http://forums.us.dell.com/
    The Microsoft Support web site http://support.microsoft.com/

    If you do contact Dell On Call, be sure to have your case number available
    for the technician.

    If you need assistance with troubleshooting your Dell hardware, please reply
    to this e-mail, and I will be happy to provide assistance.

    If you need any other information / clarification, please feel free to
    contact me, I will be glad to assist you.

    The case number for this interaction is 121589267. The case has been
    documented and the contents of this case are available to all Dell
    representatives. If you need additional assistance with this issue, please
    refer to this case number.


    Dell Rep ID 014221
    Dell Hardware Warranty Support
    news.rcn.com, Jan 6, 2006
  8. OK - so they gave you an 8 character key, and it gave back the same error
    message you've been getting. I'm not going to say what I think of that

    What happens if you try a 10 character key, or a 26 character key?

    I'm not going to tell you what you need to do--I'd get a different device
    that does WPA2, myself, but if you want to work with the mix of equipment
    that you have now, and you want the best WEP keystrength that your current
    devices can manage--which I suspect is probably 128 bits, I'd switch to a 26
    character key--do 3 times the one you have now and add a couple of padding
    characters. Probably not as strong as something more random, but WEP is
    breakable in 5 minutes or so by a knowledgable attacker--so I know you
    aren't really trying to keep the NSA out.

    Bill Sanderson, Jan 7, 2006
  9. news.rcn.com

    news.rcn.com Guest

    Taking your advice because I had no option, this is what happened:

    I finally managed to get through to someone at level 3 tech support in the
    US who seemed to be vaguely familiar with their units and we identified that
    there must be something wrong with the WEP chip in the unit but that
    entering a five character ASCII key would work and the unit would take it
    and reset itself. So I hung up and did this.

    This killed the unit off completely and thereafter no outgoing signal was
    produced by the unit at all despite all the lights going pleasingly on etc.
    No signal was picked up by any NIC anywhere in my flat or office, not even
    the one a few feet away from the unit. Nothing I did to unplug the unit,
    press the reset key, do both at the same time ( which was how I once managed
    to get an Airport working), alternate the two, etc, had any effect.

    So I installed a Buffalo 802.11g one instead which obviates this problem

    Mind you, I am still miffed that the Dell one would give a 100% strength
    signal to the NIC while the Buffalo one under identical circumstances cannot
    pick up anything stronger than 92%. And more importantly, the Buffalo one
    has always reported a weak-to-unusable signal two rooms away with only a few
    thin wall in between and in effect virtually in line-of-sight (the Dell one
    reported a strong signal) while both units report signals from nearby
    networks up to hundreds of feet away all comparatively strong.

    Anyway I can put in my 7 digit 64 bit WEP signal. Any time I have ever
    tried putting in a 128 bit key, it has resulted in virtually no signal
    being reported at all and all NICs being virtually unconfigurable.
    news.rcn.com, Jan 7, 2006
  10. OK - the Dell box was broken--I do still wonder whether it was firmware or
    hardware, but I suppose it could be both--maybe bad flash ram?

    Reset procedure is on this page:


    (search on "reset")

    I've never seen the kind of response you note to changes in keystrength.
    The WIFI certification process requires that the router be able to handle
    traffic at the certified keystrength--there's a Microsoft router which isn't
    certified at 128 for that reason--the CPU isn't up to the job-but I can't
    see how that would affect the radio end of things.

    Bill Sanderson, Jan 9, 2006
  11. news.rcn.com

    news.rcn.com Guest

    No, as you could see, they took me through pretty much every conceivable
    possibility of changing any aspect of the configuration on the router before
    throwing their hands up in despair; which is the way support centres waste
    your time when improperly trained handlers aren't able to identify the
    problem from a description. They read through scripts involving going
    through every conceivable possibility and hope for the best. Flashing the
    firmware might be an option I could explore with another computer I have
    lying around (but the page doesn't give you any information about this)
    news.rcn.com, Jan 10, 2006
  12. I'm sure that the flash procedure is in the doc--back out some parts of that
    url 'til you get to the table of contents.

    I did find one other interesting detail: This box is running a slightly
    modified Linux, and you can see much of the source code via links at this


    (oops--well--presumably the links worked at some point in the past, anyway!)

    Bill Sanderson, Jan 10, 2006
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