Simplified WiFi security

The Wi-Fi Alliance used the occasion of CES 2007 in Las Vegas to announce that it has certified the first products supporting WiFi Protected Setup, or WPS. This is good news for small businesses and homes where WiFi networks are deployed without the benefit of being attended to by an IT staff.

As most U.S. homes are expected to have a WiFi network by 2010 (see this Park Associate study), network security will become an even bigger issue. This is especially the case since most non-experts find it difficult to master the intricacies of network security. WPS will make it all easier. It requires support of WPA or WPA2, and a super-set of the 802.11i security specification. Older gear that only has WPA/WPA2 may still join the network, but it must be configured the old fashioned way. Note that WPS will not work with WEP.

The products of many vendors have been WPS-certified. Atheros, which has its own security technology (they call it JumpStart) said that ver. 2.0 of will be WPS-compatible.

And here is an interesting first (in fact, a second first): In an unusual move, the Wi-Fi Alliance said a few weeks ago that it would begin testing 802.11n gear even though the standard has not yet been ratified. The Alliance now says that it will test the pre-draft 802.11n gear for WPS compatibility.

For more on WPS:
- see Eric Griffith's wi-fiplanet discussion