by acronyms such as WPA2 and WMM? You're not alone. We define these
new terms and, more importantly, explain why you need to care about
~ By Ron Pacchiano
Acronyms come and go so quickly in this
industry that it's easy to occasionally miss a few. Both of these
are also relatively new, so I wouldn't be surprised if some of you haven't heard of
them yet. Before we explain what's new in
take a look back at
those of you not familiar with it.
WPA is a specification of
enhancements that increases the level of
protection and access control for existing
networks and was designed to be forward compatible with the upcoming
IEEE 802.11i specification. In addition to user-authentication
capabilities and support for the Extensible Authentication Protocol
uses enhanced data encryption technology via the Temporal Key
Integrity Protocol (TKIP).
TKIP provides important data encryption enhancements, including a
per-packet key-mixing function, a message integrity check (MIC), an
extended initialization vector (IV) with sequencing rules, and a
The important thing to take away from
all this is that when all of these protocols are brought together,
these features make WPA a far stronger security solution than
WEP. The way
it works is that WPA keeps out unauthorized users by requiring all
devices to have a valid
Once the password has been verified, the TKIP-encryption process
begins. Based on the original password, TKIP mathematically derives
a new security key, which is then used by all the wireless
for network access. TKIP will automatically update this key on a
regular basis. The reason for this is that long and constantly
changing encryption keys are extremely difficult to decode.
This is where the mechanics of WPA
are substantially different from WEP. In WEP the same static
encryption key is used over and over again. While no security
mechanism can be considered "absolutely secure," the protection
given by WPA is strong enough to prevent most attacks, even many
sophisticated ones. As such, WPA offers a pragmatic, economical
security mechanism for most users.
Key Terms To
Understanding Wireless Acronyms:
Short for Wired Equivalent Privacy, a security protocol for wireless
local area networks (WLANs) defined in the 802.11b standard.
Short for Wi-Fi Protected Access, a Wi-Fi standard that was designed
to improve upon the security features of WEP.
Short for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, the follow on security method to
WPA for wireless networks that provides stronger data protection and
network access control.
Short for wireless fidelity and is meant to be used generically when
referring of any type of 802.11 network.
WMM stands for Wi-Fi Multimedia. It is a standard created to define
quality of service (QoS) in Wi-Fi networks.
You should note, however, that
the U.S. military and other classified communications is handled by
separate, secret algorithms.
AES cryptography is
based on the
Rijndael (pronounced rain-dahl) algorithm created by Belgian
cryptographers, Joan Daemen & Vincent Rijmen
improved encryption for networks that use 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g
standards. Other features include key caching, which facilitates fast
reconnection to the
server for users who have temporarily gone offline, and
pre-authentication, which allows fast
roaming and is
ideal for use with advanced applications such as Voice over Internet
Protocol (VoIP). You
may be be able to upgrade some WPA products to WPA2 by
may require a
hardware change due to the computationally intensive nature of WPA2's
required AES encryption.
Now let's discuss the new
WMM protocol. WMM or
Wi-Fi Multimedia is
a standard created to define quality of service (QoS)
in Wi-Fi networks. It is a precursor to the upcoming 802.11e standard, which
is meant to improve audio, video and voice applications transmitted over
Through the use of this standard, network administrators will be able to
prioritize traffic that would suffer if delayed. An example of this is
Imagine, for example, that you just switched your telephone system to a VoIP
system. Shortly after you notice that during the hours of peak network
usage, your calls start dropping
the conversations taking place at the time frustrating and useless. The QoS
features of WMM would make sure that the VoIP calls receive the highest
priority, ensuring that your calls always sound loud and clear. Currently,
only a handful of products from vendors like Linksys, Atheros, Cisco,
Broadcom and Intel have been certified for WMM, but expect to see more over
the next few months.
Computing Terms From Webopedia
Did You Know...
More than 5 billion text messages are sent each month
in the U.S. alone, and as wireless phone sales increase, so will
the number of text messages that are being sent worldwide. Text
messaging has become a major revenue source for wireless
carriers, but it has also introduced a new way for advertisers
to to communicate with consumers.
By Ron Pacchiano.
Last updated: October 28, 2005
Meets WiFi - An Introduction to VoIP, WiFi and VoWiFi
The advances of VoIP and Internet telephony in general have come a long way
since their inception. Most recently, the "next big thing" has been to merge
Wi-Fi with VoIP, producing one of the oddest acronyms you'll ever see. VoWiFi.
VoWiFi, or Voice over Wireless Fidelity, simply means a Wi-Fi based VoIP service
. or in even more general terms, a wireless based VoIP system.
Wi-Fi Planet (formerly 802.11 Planet) is your complete guide to
the world of networking products based on the various 802.11 wireless networking
protocols (collectively known as Wi-Fi). With daily news, features, reviews, and
tutorials, Wi-Fi Planet covers all areas of the rapidly changing wireless
To find HotSpots near a location, enter a
complete or partial address. By default, all locations within 1 mile are shown.
Click on "Browse by Region" to see all HotSpots in a city. Click on a HotSpot
name for a map within the U.S. and Europe.
PracticallyNetworked has provided practical, easy-to-understand help for small
network builders since early 1998. The site contains the most complete "How-To"
information for setting up Internet sharing found anywhere! Users can find
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Wi-Fi Protected Access Overview (PDF)
An explanatory document from the Wi-Fi