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October 31, 2002

802.11 Gets a Little More Secure

Posted by Mike on October 31, 2002 12:52 PM

802.11 Planet reports that there's a new security scheme for 802.11 based on the upcoming 802.11i spec. The difference between the new standard (WPA) and the old (WEP) for small-fry home users is in the pre-shared key mode. Where WEP uses a passphrase to salt a set of static keys, WPA uses the same passphrase to generate a new key with each connection, so brute-force attacks that rely on massive collections of packets to process won't work.

Extra good news is that the Wi-Fi Alliance is promising that this improvement will be able to be introduced via software and firmware upgrades, so existing gear will be able to take advantage of the new standard.

My concern: whether Apple will break this when it updates its Airport card software so that I can't use my Linksys WAP11 with it. A few months ago I wiki'd what it takes to get the two talking, more for the benefit of a local friend, but there's enough of a dearth of information on the topic that assorted Google searches have my humble entry ranking fairly high. In other words, if the new standard screws something up, it's going to mean more sifting through archived mailing lists filled with apocrypha and dead ends before things work again.