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With a shared-key authentication process the AP sends challenge text to the client in clear text, and then the client encrypts it and sends it back to the AP. If someone is sniffing or monitoring your transmission while this was happening, they could intercept a sample of plain text with its corresponding encrypted text. This gives the hacker a tremendous head start when attempting to break your encryption key, because all of the information to perform the decryption is contained in these two pieces of data.

Conversely, the open network authentication system doesn’t pass on any information to the client in plain text, just the corresponding encrypted text. By removing that information, the process of breaking your encryption key is far more difficult. Since both authentication methods can use WEP, an open system is the preferred encryption method to employ. Because it doesn’t pass on any additional data about the key, it’s considered to be more secure. LOL

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