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By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2004-05-12 Print this article Print

: The PEAP stitch"> Microsofts experience in developing PEAP (Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol) shows how powerfully it can influence the industry when it flexes its most formidable muscle—its operating system. Microsoft produced PEAP in partnership with Cisco Systems and RSA Security at about the same time it began dabbling with Wi-Fi devices. PEAP was one of the many EAP fixes that helped plug the holes in WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), the original security mechanism in the 802.11 standard.
For more on authentication, visit eWEEK.coms Security Center at
The Windows service pack that put PEAP support in the operating system shipped just weeks before Microsoft released its first wireless device bundle. While devices languished on retail shelves, PEAP succeeded in becoming an influential authentication protocol that helped allay IT managers Wi-Fi fears—at a time when headlines touted the exploits of war-driving hackers. PEAP and the other EAP types that brought authentication to the 802.11 landscape effectively opened the door to wireless in the enterprise. Its an example of the kind of Wi-Fi initiative that deserves Microsofts attention. Just this week, the Trusted Computing Group announced that it is working on a new standard that will further secure wireless networks by enforcing up-to-date software patches, requiring clients to have them installed before they can access the WLAN. Who better to immerse itself in this effort than Microsoft, the patch-meister? And as for what remains of Microsoft wireless devices, well, bundles like the speedy 802.11g Microsoft Wireless Notebook Kit will remain in the market until the pipeline is clear of them. The folks in Redmond promise to continue support, making them an excellent buy. And, hey! Theyre selling at blow-out prices. Who knows? Microsofts swan song in the market may just give Linksys and D-Link a run for their money.

Carol Ellison is editor of'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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