Protecting the WLAN

Monday, 13 May 2002, 1:29 PM EST

A WLAN standards debate is pitting security against performance and leaving users operating wireless systems having to choose between one or the other. So far, most are opting for performance at their own risk.
The standards delay is also pushing wireless system developers, such as Atheros Communications Inc., Symbol Technologies Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., to create a confusing mix of interim security solutions.

The IEEE has been working for months on 802.11i, a new protocol designed to fix security holes in WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)—the only security included in current wireless LAN standards. But disputes over authentication protocols have ensured that the debate, already months old, will drag on until at least September, according to IEEE officials in Piscataway, N.J.

"This is the biggest issue in the industry, and we can't get past the petty infighting to figure this out?" said Rich Redelfs, president and CEO of Atheros, in Sunnyvale, Calif., the only company shipping 802.11a chip sets. "Give me a break."

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