Wi-Fi Alliance Moving Towards Better Security

Wi-Fi’s number one weakness is security. The standard security that is currently part of the spec isn’t secure enough for enterprises or easy enough for consumers to configre. So the Wi-Fi Alliance, the group that controls which products can use the Wi-Fi trademark, is rolling out new specifications to equipment makers. They are using a phased approach that makes new security features optional for the first six months and then a requirement for Wi-Fi compliance. The new standard they are adopting is the unfinished version of the IEEE 802.11i spec, which will be complete in September 2003. Plus, securing networks by default won’t be possible for another year. While the industry really needs to address security to continue Wi-Fi growth, this phased approach could lead to confusion that hurts sales rather than helps. A smarter approach might have been to wait to roll out new security standards once they were ready. In the mean time the industry could have worked together to educate users how to use the current security measure in place. Turning on weak security is better than no security.

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