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January 2002

Next-gen wireless protocols boost WEP and 802.11b security

The next generation of wireless protocols promises to address well-known security problems in WEP and 802.11b. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) last November adopted new standards to enhance speed and authentication, and is working on remedies to WEP's weaknesses. WEP2 Members of the IEEE 802.11i Working Group are developing a series of changes meant to patch WEP's flaws, particularly shoring up its vulnerable encryption methodology. Changes include modifying the way systems create and use the initialization vector (IV) and key used in encrypting network traffic -- the basis for the widely publicized WEP cracks. Other modifications are aimed at protecting the system against replay attacks, forged packets and IV collision attacks. Although no changes were adopted at IEEE's November meeting, members of the working group hope that patches and firmware updates incorporating the modifications will be available during the first quarter of this year. "The goal is that [WEP2] will be deployable on pretty much...

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