Page Two

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2005-01-03 Print this article Print

802.11i technology is attracting much interest, but few companies have embarked on widespread deployments at this time. With myriad deployment complexities and the hardware costs involved with deploying 802.11i, actual adoption of the technology may crawl before it walks, despite the marketing claims we hear that wireless security is "solved" with 802.11i.

Many vendors began shipping AES-capable products intended to work with 802.11i well before the specification was approved by the IEEE. However, the Wi-Fi Alliance only started 802.11i certification testing in September, with the first products bearing WPA2 certification—the Wi-Fi Alliance moniker for interoperability certification for a subset of 802.11i features—in October.

However, the computational overhead from AES encryption means many legacy access points and client hardware devices may not be upgradable to 802.11i. As a rule of thumb, weve found that access points that currently support 802.11g and 802.1x will likely be firmware-upgradable to 802.11i. Administrators should check with their vendors Web site for more information.

For client hardware, we focused our investigation on Wi-Fi clients embedded in laptop computers, a model that has become increasingly common during the last few years.

Intel Corp.s 802.11b/g and a/b/g adapters (Intel Pro/Wireless models 2200 and 2915) will support WPA2. Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. offer 802.11i-enabled drivers for these adapters on their support Web sites, and IBM expects to add WPA2 via its Access Connections software this quarter. However, it appears unlikely that Intels 802.11b-only embedded adapters (Intel Pro/Wireless 2100) will be upgradable to 802.11i.

Weve also found only a limited number of client supplicants that will work with 802.11i. Funk Software Inc.s Odyssey client and the Intel ProSet application both work well, but Microsoft has not announced when its WPA2 supplicant will be available.

Technical Analyst Andrew Garcia can be reached at

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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