New appliances geared for WLAN management
eLABorations: ReefEdge, SMC devices tap VPN technology, wireless standards to secure mobile communicationsWireless LANs are getting faster, with better interoperability and more cost effective connectivity for mobile users. However, current 802.11x wireless standards offer limited security measures, as recently discovered vulnerabilities in the Wire Equivalent Privacy protocol demonstrate. IT managers need better products to secure their WLANs from eavesdroppers and unauthorized access, and to enable centralized management in enterprise environments. Toward that end, companies including ReefEdge and SMC Networks are working on new lines of appliances designed specifically to secure WLANs. These products protect wireless communications by offering robust authentication, stronger encryption methods and simplified WLAN access control management. The new breed of appliances can be integrated into current WLAN infrastructures using the IEEE 802.11x and Bluetooth wireless standards. Wireless users gain access to the network by authenticating with the security appliances via SSL and certificates. The appliances have their own databases but can also integrate with LDAP, RADIUS, or Windows Domain authentication servers.
The appliances use VPN technologies to provide secured communications between the wireless clients and the WLAN security appliance through the access points. The appliances use several types of encryption, including DES, 3DES and Blowfish, to secure network data.