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Thread: IEEE approves 802.11i

  1. #1
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    IEEE approves 802.11i

    The IEEE has approved yet another specification in the 802.11 family of wireless ethernet. This time it's a new Wi-Fi security standard, dubbed 802.11i.

    Adding to the alphabet soup that is the Wi-Fi family of protocols, the IEEE has approved a new wireless security protocol dubbed 802.11i, intended to finally provide sufficient security for wireless connections that users don't need to rely on alternate security layers.

    Wi-Fi technology, including 802.11b, 802.11a, and 802.11g transmission standards, has long been criticized for its lack of decent security and privacy. The first attempt at a security system for Wi-Fi was Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which was based on a very simple private key system that served as little more than a speed bump for malicious users. Subsequent systems have tried to tighten security, but so far none have faced widespread adoption. 802.11i is expected to be certified as Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) compliant.

    Although the specification is now approved, software to make it usable won't be available to customers until September, when the Wi-Fi Alliance will begin compatibility testing for new devices.

    The new specification works by using AES encryption in the transceiver itself, encrypting data directly at the level just above the actual radio pulses themselves. That makes it transparent for applications sending data through the radio, so legacy programs running on new 802.11i-compliant hardware will automatically get the benefits of the new protocol without the need for modification. That, it is hoped, will allow corporate users to do away with complex Virtual Private Network (VPN) setups within the company without worrying about users inadvertently broadcasting sensitive information in the clear.

    AES encryption is non-trivial, however, so there is a performance penalty to encode and decode the data. Most of that encryption will be handled by the CPU, so while bandwidth should not be affected the strain on the processor may be. That will also keep a laptop running in a higher-power mode longer, which may or may not affect battery life. Definitive studies on the matter are as yet unavailable.

    I'm willing to trade off a bit of performance for better wireless security...
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Screw waiting.. I'm using the stuff right now in my 802.11G wireless nic and my 802.11G wireless Belkin DSL/Cable Router. All 256 bits of AES. Yeah the overhead isn't too great on your performance but oh well.. small price for such good encryption. I had TKIP (default WPA standard) enabled for a while before I setup AES. That provided good protection (despite being RC4 Stream) thanks to the way it's implemented and there's much less overhead to deal with so it doesn't hurt performance as bad. This new standard isn't anything really new... other than the actual devices having increased hardware support for AES and some other small things. An XP (only) Wi-Fi patch from MS has allowed WPA encryption with 802.11G devices since last October. If I had anything good at all to say about MS then it would have to be that. http://www.linuxant.com/driverloader...88efbe11865611 Linuxant (a licensee of Conexant) has WPA drivers and a patch that'll allow for WPA support on Linux as well. I'd much rather hear about increased SPI firewall support or increased support for configuration of the device (thru SSH, Telnet, Web interface etc) than about something that's already out with software compatibility patches for both Linux and Win XP/XP Pro.

    *Note: The additional built-in security support will up the price$ of these devices as it'll be the main selling point. That and being a "New! 'FRESH' SeCuRe!!" standard and all. You can get good 802.11G hardware for cheap that should be very comparable by the time this hits in September and will be a lot cheaper. I got my Belkin54G Router for 100$ (from Belkin it's around 130$ -go figure). You can get some for as cheap as 50-60$ but I'm not too sure of their quality. The 54G wireless nic I got for around 90$ but I could've shopped around and got it cheaper. Add that up and that's less than 200$ for both the router and the nic both of the newest technology Wi-Fi standard (until now since 802.11i has been ratified).

  3. #3
    Senior Member mungyun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    At one site I found, It mentioned that Equipment released in 2003, and some in 2002, already has the silicon in place to support full 802.11i. I also found a site that has more specific detail.
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