Products supporting the Wi-Fi Protected Setup standard due for June

Products supporting a new standard designed to ease the deployment of wireless networks and encourage their use within smaller businesses are expected to be available next month, according to industry body the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Products supporting a new standard designed to ease the deployment of wireless networks and encourage their use within smaller businesses are expected to be available next month, according to industry body the Wi-Fi Alliance.

More than 25 products, including phones, have been certified against the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) standard.

The WPS specification was developed by Wi-Fi Alliance member companies to provide an industry-standard approach to ease the set up of Wi-Fi networks and build confidence in wireless networking.

"Wi-Fi has quickly become one of the most pervasive wireless technologies, but users have told us they want it to be easier to set up and protect," said Wi-Fi Alliance managing director Frank Hanzlik. "WPS halves the number of user steps required to set up a network, enabling Wi-Fi to be more easily installed across a range of consumer devices."

The security is based on push-button or Pin entry authentication. Users push a button on the access point and the client device to exchange the encryption key. With a Pin, users enter a four-digit code generated by the client device to connect to the network.

Later versions of the standard will support near-field communications, where devices are held at close range to carry out a key exchange. USB support will enable a memory stick to be inserted into a PC and then inserted into associated client devices to connect them to the network.

Wireless encryption is a major problem for security professionals. Gartner research director Rachna Ahlawat said that despite Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (a class of systems created by the Wi-Fi Alliance to secure Wi-Fi networks) being mandatory in certifications since March 2006, users still had fears about the security of using wireless devices.

Gartner research indicates that over the next three years 90% of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth security incidents will be the result of misconfigured systems. Ahlawat said that organisations needed to understand how new technologies and business practices increase the risks of using wireless technologies.

Wi-Fi Alliance website >>

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