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WPS to allay wireless security concerns?

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The Wi-Fi Alliance has officially announced Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) in an attempt to to make safe Wi-Fi easier.

WPS is the name for its upcoming consumer ease-of-use program, formerly code named "Wi-Fi Simple Config".

"Slated for launch in Q4 of this year, the program is planned as an optional certification based on a standardised method for security setup in home Wi-Fi networks," the alliance said yesterday.

WNN's Glenn Fleishman said: "While individual chipmakers Atheros and Broadcom have spent some years trying to get manufacturer uptake for easier security setup, and Buffalo has long had its AOSS hardware button solution on its gear, the whole point of WiFi is that it's mix and match. As much as vendors don't like it, you will often find heterogeneous gear in a single household. Thus, a Wi-Fi Alliance backed initiative must take the day in the end."

The dream of the alliance is to make Wi-Fi more ubiquitous. It recently revealed the results of a research survey, conducted with Kelton Research. Among key takeaway data items:

  • The Wi-Fi lifestyle has reached iPod popularity
    Think iPods are popular? Not compared to Wi-Fi. Eight out of 10 surveyed readily volunteered to give up their iPod any day over their home wireless network (80* per cent vs 21 per cent).
  • Phone home? Not so much
    When Americans were asked which they would rather give up, their home telephone or wireless computer network, 79 per cent responded that they would rather live without a home phone. Only 21 per cent said they would part with their home Wi-Fi connection. Surprisingly, suburban residents – who normally may be considered to have more "homebody" tendencies than their urban counterparts – were even more likely to trade in their home phones for their wireless networks than those who live in urban areas (83 per cent vs 74 per cent).
  • Honesty is the best policy
    Eighty-two percent of those surveyed indicated that they do not use wireless computer networks to mask their whereabouts (vs 18 per cent who said they have, for instance, telling their boss that they were at home sick, when they were really at a friend's house).
  • Death of the home office
    It appears that the days of the traditional home office may be coming to an end. A majority of Americans (55 per cent) said that at least two to three times a week they worked from home – although it doesn't mean sitting in a traditional office space. Rather, they’re working in the kitchen, living room, or even in a public space such as a coffee shop or bookstore. Interestingly, older wireless users age 40 to 64 were 10 per cent more likely to "work from home" outside of a home office than younger Americans age 18 to 29, several times a week (42 per cent vs 32 per cent).
  • One hour for freedom
    When asked how long it took to set up current wireless computer networks at home, the average length of time was just one hour eight minutes. Not much time for all the freedom the technology allows.

The alliance research also "indicates that 43 per cent of Wi-Fi users found that installing security on a home Wi-Fi network was moderately-to-very difficult," the pressure group said.

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