Interlink Brings Enterprise Wi-Fi Security to SMBs

 
 
By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

New software aims to make Wi-Fi enterprise security setup as easy as configuring security codes on a garage door opener.

Interlink Networks rolled out Monday a software-based wireless security product that aims to bring high-end enterprise security to small businesses in a setup thats as easy to configure as security codes in a garage door opener. At least thats the goal of Mike Klein, president and CEO of Interlink, who believes that small businesses have been left out of the Wi-Fi security equation. Called LucidLink Wireless Security, the product brings RADIUS authentication to wireless networks in an easy-to-install software solution. Wi-Fi vendors, said Klein, "have really been living in two market places: home, where strong security is often not the main concern, and enterprise, [which has] the budgets and IT staffs to support a RADIUS solution."
Last year, the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) as a new security standard to replace the vulnerable WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption security in the 802.11 standard. WEP provided no authentication to control. It offered only encryption—and weak encryption at that. WPA added strong new TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) encryption, as well as authentication, using a pre-shared key for home and small-office users, and 802.1x authentication (usually RADIUS-based) for the enterprise.
WPAs pre-shared key, though stronger than WEPs, has been shown to be vulnerable to dictionary attacks. That, said Klein, leaves small businesses that require enterprise-level Wi-Fi security with few options. He cited "the promise of Wi-Fi and the reality of Wi-Fi." The reality is the technical hurdle that faces the average small business that lacks the technical sophistication to understand and reconfiguration to change an SSID or suppress a MAC address. Klein estimates it takes 177 decisions and 12 to 16 hours to get a RADIUS server and back-end authentication running "just to get the first user connected to the network." Interlink is an enterprise vendor that sells a variety of RADIUS solutions. The company has been selling RADIUS servers for 12 years, as well as software sold to OEMs to provide RADIUS-in-a-box solutions on access points and appliances. LucidLink was designed to offer small enterprises wireless, 802.1x RADIUS authentication without the expense or setup required in traditional RADIUS solutions, said Klein. It runs on Windows XP and 2000 using Interlinks EAP protocol, EAP-Link, and a proprietary internal database to manage user accounts. The software installs automatically with little configuration and allows administrators to configure access points from within the software. Configuration of the RADIUS server itself is limited to a shared secret that is used to secure the connection between the access point and the server. Administrators can provide a company name, administrators name and phone number to be communicated to new network users as they connect to the network. Interlink will demo LucidLink at the Wi-Fi Planet Conference & Expo in Baltimore this week. The product is one in a growing number of solutions coming into the market to make Wi-Fi enterprise security more accessible and affordable to small businesses. In April, Gateway Inc. introduced a single-band 802.11g and dual-band 802.11a and g access point with an integrated RADIUS server, support for the PEAP and MSCHAP v2 EAP protocols, WPA, and AES, as well as 64- and 128-bit WEP. Gateway offers the products at $399, supporting up to 100 users. Check out eWEEK.coms Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.

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Carol Ellison is editor of eWEEK.com's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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