Apple upgrades AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi security

Adds WPA support

Apple has updated its AirPort WLAN client and base-station software to add support for the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security protocol.

The new release, dubbed AirPort 3.2, only targets the company's 802.11g-based AirPort Extreme product range, not the earlier 802.11b implementation. The software includes a firmware upgrade for the AirPort Extreme access point and AirPort Extreme client code.

WPA is a subset of the as yet unratified 802.11i security standard. It provides all the features of the would-be standard, leaving out only those that require hardware acceleration. WPA provides Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) data encryption support. TKIP essentially addresses the known vulnerabilities in the weak Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) system that's part of the 802.11b, g and a standards. WPA also adds user authentication schemes, including 802.1x and Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP).

802.11i is expected to be ratified by the IEEE as an international standard late this year or early next.

The Apple upgrade, which weighs in at 8.8MB, is available through Mac OS X's Software Update utility, but not yet via the Apple support website, which is still listing AirPort 3.1.1 as the latest version of the software.

Apple also notes that both client add-in card and base-station are certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance for 802.11b and 802.11g interoperability. ®

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