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802.11i product releases

Any idea when proposed 802.11i wireless products will be released?
The good news is that the proposed 802.11i standard, which is designed to add new security layers to both business and consumer Wi-Fi technology and plug a lot of the inherent holes in traditional local wireless systems, will most likely be available to vendors sometime in late summer and will probably appear in products before the end of this year. The better news, however, is that standardization groups such as the IEEE and non-profit Wi-Fi Alliance have recognized the importance of security in this space and have already defined a wireless encryption protocol infrastructure (allowing for "protected access") that has been submitted to vendors and will soon surface in a variety of new and much more secure wireless products.

As everyone knows, current 802.11 Wi-Fi is based on wired encryption protocol (WEP) standards, which were defined for hard-wired networks, which offer much more management and control than wireless systems. Since 802.11 wireless -- the basic type of which is offered through a variety of "hotspots" -- is basically insecure, a lot of companies restrict the use of such systems for transmitting sensitive or mission critical information.

The planned 802.11i specifications, which are still being reviewed and adapted by committees, should address all these problems since they will tackle the issue from firmware and eventually new silicon devices. Standards organizations are looking to make the new specifications "backward compatible", allowing them to work with current and emerging 802.11 technologies. Most likely, though, companies and individuals will have to upgrade to the newer and more secure devices in order to take advantage of the full security benefits.

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