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ISO rejects China's WAPI wireless security protocol

Even so, the Chinese government plans to continue to support WAPI

By Stephen Lawson
March 13, 2006 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - The International Standards Organization (ISO) last week rejected a security protocol that was backed by some Chinese representatives as an amendment to the group's wireless LAN standard.

The ISO turned down the Chinese technology, called the WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI), in voting to adopt the IEEE 802.11i security specification that was developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc., according to a member of the IEEE 802.11 Working Group who asked not to be named because of working group rules.

The ISO, a network of standards institutes that overlooks specifications in a wide variety of fields, routinely adopts IEEE 802.11 standards and incorporates them into its body of specifications, the IEEE working group member said.

The Chinese government said that it would continue to support WAPI and that the rejection by the ISO would not affect use of WAPI in China, according to an online article by China's official Xinhua news service.

Votes at the ISO on adopting amendments to IEEE 802.11 standards normally aren't controversial, the working group member said.

"At least in 802.11, there's never been anyone who's brought in a proposal that wasn't developed in 802.11," he said.

The IEEE approved 802.11i in 2004. China's government at one time proposed forcing foreign companies to license WAPI but later dropped those plans.

A document from the IEEE 802.11 Working Group indicates that resistance to incorporating WAPI into an international wireless LAN standard has grown amid concerns about secrecy, namely the use of an undisclosed algorithm in the protocol.

Last week, 22 Chinese companies announced the formation of a group called the WAPI Industrial Union to promote adoption of WAPI. The group claimed its protocol offers better security than 802.11i.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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