Key to Wi-Fi Security

Friday, 31 January 2003, 1:47 PM EST

Conventional wisdom says wireless LAN access to an enterprise adds enormous risk because the broken security model at the heart of Wi-Fi networking allows crackers to break encryption , snoop traffic, insert packets, and associate at will. WLAN access points must be outside the firewall, with VPN connections tunneling through. No exceptions.

Enter the Wi-Fi Alliance, with members that include Microsoft, Intel, Cisco and Apple. Seeking to quell consumer and enterprise concerns about Wi-Fi security holes, the group has essentially lifted the construction engineer's drawings for the work-in-progress IEEE 802.11i security draft and started to pour and smooth the macadam that leads to the golden city on the hill: full 802.11i completion and ratification. This ad hoc engineering project comes with member approval; the move isn't as radical as it seems.

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