Small businesses and telecommuters at home should be able to work more securely over Wi-Fi networks with the availability of the first products that have been certified under the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Protected Setup program designed to make the setup process easier and quicker.

While the use of Wi-Fi networks has exploded in recent years, the wireless connectivity solution has been hampered by security concerns. Since March 2006, all certified Wi-Fi products have been required to include the WPA and WPA-2 security standards used by the federal government, but the eight-step setup process often proved too complex for many home and small-business users, said Linda Hanley, senior director of marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance.

“It’s like the seatbelts in your car,” Hanley said. “The car manufacturers put the seatbelts in there, but you have to take the next step and put them on.”

In an effort to simplify the security setup process, the Wi-Fi Alliance established Protected Setup, a program that standardized security setup into four steps—a process simple enough that home and small-business users will be able to leverage the top levels of security available in current Wi-Fi products.

Large enterprises likely will continue to use their own setup processes, which incorporate more complex functionality, although the Wi-Fi Alliance hopes to simplify enterprise security setup in the future, Hanley said.

“[Protected Setup] is really for those who don’t have their own IT department,” she said.