Wi-Fi Security Doesnt Have to Mean Slow

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2004-08-09 Print this article Print

Wireless gear makers are finding ways to improve the speed and security of the networks.

With performance at a premium for enterprises packing their WLANs with heavy-duty applications such as voice over IP, wireless gear makers are finding ways to improve the speed and security of the networks.

Airespace Inc. has teamed with two partners to create a way to eliminate the need for wireless devices to reauthenticate with a back-end RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) server when roaming. Funk Software Inc. and Atheros Communications Inc. joined Airespace in developing PKC (Protective Key Caching), which lets clients roam among access points using a single master key. PKC is designed to prevent secure wireless LANs from getting sluggish.

Click here to read about a RADIUS server attack that can thwart the recently ratified 802.11i protocol.
"Voice is extremely latency-sensitive because of quality-of-service issues," said Boris Shubin, IT manager at Dunkin Donuts Inc.s Mid-Atlantic Distribution Center, in Swedesboro, N.J., which uses voice clients from Voxware Inc. on an Airespace-based WLAN. "I cant have these things reauthenticating every time they move down the warehouse floor."

PKC is due on the Airespace platform next month.

Separately, through partnerships with InfoExpress Inc. and Zone Labs Inc., Airespace is expanding its WLAN switching system to include NAC (network access control) security features that extend security policies to client devices.

A client trying to gain access to the WLAN will be quarantined while the Airespace system queries the NAC policy engine—either InfoExpress CyberGatekeeper LAN or Zone Labs Integrity Server; Airespace has built APIs for both. The software checks for unauthorized applications, automatically updates the device and grants access to the WLAN.

Officials at the San Jose, Calif., company said Airespaces NAC offering does not require 802.1x for authentication and works across Layer 2 and Layer 3 mechanisms.

Integration with CyberGatekeeper is available now; Zone Labs integration is forthcoming, officials said.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs analysis of wireless security options. Meanwhile, Meru Networks Inc. this week will introduce the AP200, an access point that can support 802.11b and 802.11g on the same network without degrading the performance of 802.11g, according to officials at the Sunnyvale, Calif., company. 802.11b/g degradation historically has been a problem in crowded networks. The access point includes two radios that can be software-programmable to 802.11a as well, officials said. The AP200 is due next month.

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