SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Several makers of chips compliant to the IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN standards have announced that they will support the Wi-Fi Alliance's enhanced security measures called Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), announced today (April 31, 2002).
Aetheros Inc., Atmel Corp. Intersil Corp. and Resonext Communications Inc. all pledged support for the development claiming that it would enhance the take up of wireless LAN connectivity.
Intersil said it is sampling a WPA security solution for both PC cards and wireless LAN access points with production release set for December 2002. Atheros said it is integrating WPA with even stronger encryption via the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for enterprise and government level security. And Atmel announced today it that it will support WPA on its range of 802.11b Media Access Controller (MAC) and MAC plus baseband controller parts. WPA will be enabled through a firmware upgrade to existing products in the market and as an integrated hardware block in Atmel's future MAC plus baseband products, the company said.
"Security is a key concern of our customers," said Robert Fan, Resonext vice president of marketing and vice chair of Wi-Fi Alliance Security Committee, in a statement. "The flexible MAC architecture in our chipsets is designed to be software upgradeable with the latest security solutions as they are introduced."
"Security is a fundamental concern for both enterprises and consumers deploying wireless networks," said Rich Redelfs, president and chief executive officer of Atheros. "We are committed to providing the industry's most advanced security solutions, ranging from WPA support and AES encryption to the use of virtual LANs to segment multiple classes of users."
WPA, a standard being promoted by Wi-Fi Alliance, will enhance the Wireless Encryption Privacy (WEP) encryption methodology supported under the IEEE 802.11 standard. WPA is an intermediate security solution that is stronger and further reaching than Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) (see October 31 story).
However, although many companies are planning firmware upgrades to achieve WPA compliance there are indications that this could impact performance.
"...data currently available show that Atmel's WPA implementation will be achieved with very low performance degradation when in firmware and with no performance degradation at all when in hardware, maintaining a popular advantage of Atmel's existing WEP security mechanism implementation," said. Dimitris Troupis, WLAN specialist of Atmel's multimedia communications product group, in a statement.