Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)

The fact that numerous security issues with WEP have been brought to light hasn’t gone unnoticed in the eyes of vendors that manufacturer Wi-Fi equipment. Although not yet officially standardized by the IEEE (the same folks that (standardized) the 802.11 Wi-Fi standards, the industry has come together in support of a new wireless encryption method known as Wi-Fi Protected Access, or WPA. WPA addresses many of the shortcomings of WEP by including a facility for dynamically changing the encryption keys used between wireless access points and clients on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, only the newest Wi-Fi equipment currently ships with WPA capabilities, although many vendors are providing firmware updates for existing access points and network cards, so check the vendor’s website for your particular equipment. If your equipment already supports WPA, you’ll need to download an update to get it working with Windows XP clients – see this KB article for more information on how WPA functions, and to download the update (Service Pack 2 for XP also adds WPA capabilities).

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of 2000Trainers.com. He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.