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Wi-Fi Alliance preps WPA 2 security spec

Full 802.11i coming at last?

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The Wi-Fi Alliance yesterday said it will offer a second generation of its Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security system later this year.

The Wi-Fi standards body also announced that more than 175 products have been certified as compatible with the first version of WPA.

Launched in mid-2003, WPA provides a rather higher level of data security across wireless networks than Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), the security system incorporated into the 802.11b standard.

WPA is not an IEEE standard per se, but it is a sub-set of the proposed 802.11i security standard currently being defined and agreed by the IEEE. In essence, WPA offers everything in 802.11i that doesn't require hardware acceleration - primarily its level of data encryption.

Initially an option, WPA certification is now a requirement for any Wi-Fi product to achieve Wi-Fi Alliance certification - and without that, no product can claim to be compatible with 802.11a, b or g.

WPA 2 isn't far off, and is likely to be simply how 802.11i is marketed. Having established WPA, why chuck all the brand awareness by naming the next version after the IEEE standard?

The Alliance expects products certified for WPA 2 to be available in the middle of 2004. ®

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