Linksys Announces Support for Wi-Fi WPA

Linksys will first incorporate WPA in its currently shipping Wireless-G products via firmware and software upgrades available at linksys.com by end of May.

WPA provides enhanced, interoperable security that increases the level of data protection and access control for wireless LANs. WPA prevents unwanted users from accessing a network without the proper permission and password. The improved security should address one of the top concerns about 802.11 wireless networking, speeding the deployment of wireless LANs in the corporate environment.

“WPA provides a vast benefit for home, small office, and enterprise WLAN users,” said Allen Huotari, Linksys Director of Research and Development. “The need for enhanced security is a common denominator for all wireless network users, from the residential to the corporate environment. Although these networks serve different purposes, WPA successfully addresses the varying security requirements of wireless LAN users. WPA is a crucial and advantageous step forward in the continued growth of the 802.11 industry.”

Wi-Fi Protected Access will replace the existing WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) protocol. Through improved data encryption techniques attackers will be unable to view or alter any data to or from the network. Enterprise-level security is also enhanced to authenticate each user prior to joining the network, keeping them from accessing a rogue network.

With security being a priority for all users, WPA provides security enhancements to all users in many environments. Home and SOHO users will be able to take advantage of this new Wi-Fi feature, which will be forward compatible with IEEE’s upcoming 802.11i standard, through a specially designed mode using pre-shared keys. Each user will have a unique password that will need to be entered manually to activate WPA. It is also dynamic, which means the user key will be changed periodically and automatically to prevent intruders into the network. In this regard, WPA is substantially different from WEP, which uses the same encryption key repeatedly. This special mode in WPA also eliminates the process of having to manually type the 40, 60 or 128 encryption keys, which is required when using the current WEP security feature.

WPA has been designed to be a firmware or software upgrade for existing Wi-Fi certified wireless LAN products. These upgrades will be made available for Linksys’ Wireless-G products when testing is completed. Firmware and software upgrades for Linksys products will be obtainable at www.linksys.com. By summer, Linksys will also provide WPA enhancements for many of its popular Wireless Dual-Band A+G products and Wireless-B products, including the BEFW11S4 (v2 and v3), WPC11 (v2, v2.5 and v3), WUSB11 (v2 and v2.5), WMP11, WCF11 and WCF12.

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