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Wi-Fi security gets a boost

The Wi-Fi Alliance announces the first round of products using the latest security spec, as it works to allay concerns about wirelessly transmitting data over networks.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced the certification of products using the latest security specification, as it works to allay concerns about wirelessly transmitting data over networks.

One of the chief concerns for businesses about the Wi-Fi wireless networking technology has been the lack of a security standard. An industry group called the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has been working to develop and approve 802.11i, a security standard that won't be finished for at least another year. The latest security specification, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), is a subset of what will become the 802.11i standard. WPA replaces the existing security protocol, called Wired Equivalent Privacy.

"The industry had to be responsible and meet the needs of those companies who are deploying these networks," said Brian Grimm, a Wi-Fi Alliance spokesman.

WPA is the third specification related to Wi-Fi to receive certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance for interoperability, which means that approved products are supposed to work with each other no matter which company manufactured the product. The certification is meant to broaden Wi-Fi's reach and expand the number of networks that people will be able to access. The Wi-Fi Alliance has approved products based on the 802.11a and 802.11b standards and is working on 802.11g-based products.

Consumers and businesses will be able to tell which products have been certified to be interoperable for WPA by looking for the Wi-Fi label. The Wi-Fi Alliance also will maintain a list on its Web site. Certified products will be available in May.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has certified the 802.11b components of the following products for WPA interoperability:

• Atheros AR5001X+ 802.11a/b/g CardBus Reference Design Board
• Atheros AR5001AP 802.11a/b/g Access Point
• Broadcom 802.11g Access Point Reference Design
• Broadcom 802.11g CardBus Reference Design
• Cisco Access Point AIR
• Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 LAN 3B Mini-PCI Adapter
• Intersil PRISM 2.5 Reference Design PCMCIA Card ISL37300P
• Intersil PRISM Access Point Development Kit ISL36356A
• Symbol Wireless Networker CompactFlash Wireless LAN Adapter Model LA-4137