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The Wi-Fi Alliance has a timetable for eliminating outdated WEP and TKIP security from certified Wi-Fi devices:
TKIP and WEP won't be allowed in new devices with the Wi-Fi stamp in a staged elimination over three years starting in 2011.
Anyone reading this site should be well aware that WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), the original local-link encryption standard in 802.11b, has been broken since 2001, and horribly so since 2003.
TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) was a backwards compatible replacement introduced in 2003, and intended to work with older silicon that didn't have either the circuits or computational muster to handle WEP's real replacement, AES-CCMP AES (also from 2003) is often called WPA2 encryption, although it's more particularly an encryption type that's part of WPA2.
While TKIP hasn't been broken, it has known vulnerabilities, such as a susceptibility to dictionary-based attacks for short keys (eight characters), and some very clever ways to insert packets through manipulating a flaw in the packet integrity protocol.
The 802.11n standard only allows the use of AES keys, which sometimes provokes confusing statements about its capabilities. Apple updated a support note on 3 June 2010 which stated that 802.11n with WEP or TKIP could only operate at 54 Mbps, when it's perhaps more accurate to state that 802.11n drops down to 802.11g to handle these older security types.
Kelly Davis-Felner, the Wi-Fi Alliance's marketing director, said, "We had a process within our membership to say we have a few aging security mechanisms, one of which is known to be obsolete - and that would be WEP, of course - and we wanted to define what the roadmap would look like to get the whole industry to end of life" the technology.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is a membership trade group that sets certification standards for products that bear the Wi-Fi seal. As such, its efforts are driven by what the members want, and the group allows a typically consistent approach across the entire industry.
TKIP and WEP will be phased out in stages starting 1 January 2011 until 1 January 2014. Changes affect only new devices seeking certification. Companies can also release 802.11 equipment without the Wi-Fi imprimatur, although that's extremely rare, and essentially unheard of among any major equipment maker.
At the start of 2011, access points will no longer be certified with TKIP as an option by itself, commonly revealed as WPA-PSK, WPA-TKIP, or WPA Personal. Mixed modes, in which an AP can accept either TKIP or AES keys, will still be allowed.
But also starting in 2011, manufacturers can opt to ship Wi-Fi hardware preset to use WPA2 out of the box. Currently, Wi-Fi-certified access points have to be set to open, and a purchaser configures it to use security. This is an interesting change, and part of what Davis-Felner said will be greater efforts in the coming year to promote security.
In 2012, new Wi-Fi adapters won't be allowed to support TKIP.
In 2013, WEP is finally disallowed for APs. Inclusion is there only for certain categories of legacy devices for which no other option is available. WEP is used by point of sale systems and older hardware that can't be upgraded. It's a membership decision, so clearly justified by a remaining installed base.
In 2014, the mixed TKIP/AES mode for access points can no longer be included in certified devices, and WEP cannot be available to new client devices.
Even in advance of the December announcement, chipmakers were jumping on the Bluetooth 4.0 bandwagon. The previous month, for example, Texas Instruments (TI) had announced what it said was the "world's first single-chip, single-mode Bluetooth low energy device" in the form of the CC2540 SoC (left and below).
Single-mode chips such as the TI part will be destined for highly integrated, compact devices that use a minimum of power. Meanwhile, it's said, current Bluetooth chips will be able to talk to such devices once they have been equipped with a new low-energy software stack.
Bluetooth 4.0 Specifications out for Certification http://bit.ly/aQ4GPX
Bluetooth 4.0 leads Gartner's top 10 mobile tech list-http://bit.ly/cTjc4V 2011 Bluetooth 4.0 will introduce a new low-energy (LE) mode that will enable communication with external peripherals and sensors.
Bluetooth 4.0 and its LE technology "will enable a range of new sensor-based business models in industries such as fitness, healthcare, and environmental control and will be used by handset and PC peripherals to enable new functions, such as PCs that autolock when users move away from them," says the research group. Earlier this month, the Bluetooth SIG announced that Bluetooth 4.0 devices will start arriving in the fourth quarter of this year.
|T-Mobile SideKick LX|
However, T-Mobile is apparently leaving the door open for future Sidekick devices. "While we work on the next chapter of our storied Sidekick franchise, T-Mobile will continue to provide our loyal Sidekick customers with product service and support. Stay tuned for exciting updates in the months ahead, which we expect will provide customers with a new and fresh experience," a T-Mobile spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.
The only thing that's surprising is that the Sidekick still has life. The device, regarded as the first true smartphone, was supposed to live on in Microsoft's social networking-oriented Kin phones, but the software giant abandoned that effort this week due to poor sales and a frosty reception from consumers.
The Sidekick's fate was essentially sealed last October when Microsoft's Danger subsidiary, which runs the Sidekick service, suffered a major database outage that led to some users losing contacts and other personal data stored on their devices.
Microsoft said the outage only affected a "minority" of T-Mobile's approximately one million Sidekick subscribers, but the carrier had to suspend Sidekick sales for more than a month while Microsoft worked to stabilize the service platform. Microsoft was also targeted in class action suits from angry Sidekick customers.
But even without the outage, Microsoft's commitment to future development of the Sidekick has been in doubt for some time. Many T-Mobile customers saw Microsoft's February 2008 acquisition of Danger as a death knell for their beloved Sidekick, and in the wake of the outage neither Microsoft nor T-Mobile would confirm plans to develop future models.
T-Mobile in April 2009 unveiled the Sidekick LX, which was the first Sidekick to run on T-Mobile's 3G data network.
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