Wi-Fi Alliance Unveils New Security Standard

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The Wi-Fi Alliance Thursday unveiled a new security standard to replace Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) in wireless LAN products.

Called Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), the new standard works with existing Wi-Fi certified products, the Alliance said. Many vendors are expected to begin shipping products with WPA in the first quarter of next year and offer software updates for existing products. Wi-Fi also is known as the 802.11b standard.

"Enterprises, small businesses and home users need a stronger standards-based security solution than WEP, and they need it now," said Dennis Eaton, chairman of the Wi-Fi Alliance, in a prepared statement.

Indeed, the security vulnerabilities in WEP have been well-documented. WPA boosts the levels of encryption and authentication, the Alliance said.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, a nonprofit organization based here, said WPA is derived from the upcoming IEEE 802.11i draft standard and is designed to be forward-compatible with that standard.

Since the IEEE 802.11i standard probably won't be published until the end of next year, several Wi-Fi Alliance members worked with the members of the IEEE 802.11i task group to develop a security solution to meet the immediate needs of the market, according to the Alliance.

Initially, vendors will be able to ship products with WPA turned off, but eventually it will be required that the standard be turned on in all shipping products, said the Alliance.

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