Wi-Fi - New bundles improve management and security options

Tuesday, 24 June 2003, 4:23 PM EST

Wi-Fi networks have, up until this point, been a bit like the Wild West: exciting, but difficult to control and keep safe. Now, a host of new management and security options are springing up as Wi-Fi penetrates corporate environments. Read on to find out what's in store.

As Wi-Fi hardware becomes a corporate standard, vendors are rolling out increasingly sophisticated management, security, and software development options. Some of the newer Wi-Fi products are designed to boost network management capabilities, offering features comparable to those for tried-and-true networking options like Ethernet. Vendors are offering software suites designed to hook wired networks into wireless networks seamlessly, integrating key wired functions into the Wi-Fi network and providing bandwidth-management and identity controls

Other next-generation enterprise Wi-Fi products are designed to quell ongoing security fears. Many vendors are moving away from the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) standard, whose static, shared encryption keys might linger long enough to be cracked by hostile outsiders, and toward the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) protocol.

Vendors are also releasing enterprise-level development tools designed to help programmers create and deploy applications to the variety of devices likely to connect to a wireless LAN. These new features, which seem destined to boost Wi-Fi acceptance in the enterprise market, could kick off a new round of development-centered wireless networking over the next several months.

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