June 25, 2004 12:44 PM PDT
Wi-Fi security standard sealed and delivered
As expected, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers approved late Thursday the 802.11i specification as a standard to be used in conjunction with other 802.11 standards. While many in the industry have been awaiting the standard, some of its features have already been in use. Manufacturers have been selling products using prestandard versions of 802.11i for about six months, anticipating that it wouldn't change much by the time it was completed.
Wi-Fi products establish wireless local area networks that allow devices to connect, transmitting and receiving data within a range of 150 feet.
The 802.11i standard should give wireless networking a boost in the eyes of businesses. Previous security measures, such as Wired Equivalent Privacy, were easily broken by hackers, leaving many security-conscious IT managers wary about wireless networking. The 802.11i standard encrypts data sent along wireless networks to protect it from anyone who may intercept it.
The most significant feature of the 802.11i standard is Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), a strong encryption standard supporting 128-bit, 192-bit and 256-bit keys, said Robin Ritch, Intel's director of security industry marketing.
Ritch added that Intel's Centrino bundle of chips will begin to incorporate the 802.11i standard following interoperability certification by the Wi-Fi Alliance, expected in September. All Centrino products will be 802.11i-compliant by the end of the year, and the upgrades will be in software.
Other Wi-Fi specifications under way include 802.11e, which involves quality of service, and 802.11r, which is meant to improve the roaming of clients as they move from network to network.
The high-throughput 802.11n specification, which will allow actual rates to reach more than 100 megabits per second, is also being developed but isn't expected for some time.
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