Evolution of Wireless LAN Security Architecture to IEEE 802.11i (WPA2)

M. Mathews and R. Hunt (New Zealand)


Wireless LAN, IEEE802.11x, WEP (Wireless Equivalent Privacy), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol), AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)


Wireless LANs have gone through rapid changes with respect to their security architecture in recent years. One view has been to incorporate WLANs under already existing VPN umbrellas and to view them merely as an alternative access method — thus preserving existing VPN infrastructure. Another view has been to address the security of the airwaves which has been demonstrated to be extremely vulnerable. The evolution of security standardisation based upon the work of the IEEE has evolved from WEP to WPA which introduced new key management and integrity mechanisms through to WAP2 (IEEE 802.11i) which maintains the management and integrity mechanisms of WPA but introduces AES encryption as well as moving much of the security functionality to the hardware. This paper traces the evolution and development of this new WLAN security architecture.

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