Wi-Fi body to simplify security setup

The group that certifies Wi-Fi products aims to make more wireless large area networks (LANs) secure by taking some of the work out of locking them down.

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The group that certifies Wi-Fi products aims to make more wireless large area networks (LANs) secure by taking some of the work out of locking them down.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is using the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas today to announce its new Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) specification, which lays out an easier process for setting up a secure wireless LAN.

The group will also reveal the first devices certified under WPS, though it will take a few more months for consumer products to reach store shelves.

Most consumers still don't use the available Wi-Fi security tools because they are too hard to set up, said Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. WPS is designed to cut the number of steps required to secure a new network, he said.

Although vendors have been selling their own simplified security systems, they want a standard technology that access points and devices from all vendors can use, according to Hanzlik. Intel, Microsoft, Cisco's Linksys division and other vendors helped develop the new specification.

Wireless LAN security systems, including the current WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) standard, encrypt traffic and require user authentication to get on the network. Traditionally, when users set up new wireless LANs, they have to set a network name and a "pass phrase" for the access point, then select the name and enter the pass phrase on every new device as they add it to the network.

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