Canadian Wi-Fi network company Sesame Networks makes its U.S. debut Monday with a security product designed to enable secure guest access to the Internet over enterprise wireless connections.
Guest access has been a sticking point for Wi-Fi networks in enterprises where managers fear the consequences of opening segments of their WLANs (wireless LANs) for general public use. If they make Wi-Fi guest access available at all, they typically do it by running an open segment in front of a firewall on the corporate WLAN.
But running an open segment can leave the organization liable if it is used to stage abuses, such as hacker and DOS (denial of service) attacks on other networks.
That concern has impeded WLAN adoption in organizations such as libraries that want to make guest access available while ensuring that it is not abused, said Cliff Grossner, Sesame Networks vice president of product marketing.
"An open Wi-Fi network opens them to liability if it is used in a way it should not be used," Grossner said. Abuses, he said, can be traced to the IP address from which they originated.
The solutions presently used for enterprise guest access differ from public hot spots run by operators, which charge for access and can trace activities to the users account, he said.
Enterprise solutions can be cumbersome if the segment is not left open. They require enterprises to maintain and track temporary IDs, reconfigure laptops to work on their networks, or revert to dial-up access for guests.
Sesame Networks solution uses cell phone numbers to impose a means of associating a users activity with that persons identity. It presents guests with a customizable welcome screen that invites them to enter their cell phone number. That number is recorded in Sesame Networks data center and is associated with an activation code that is sent to the users phone via a SMS message. The user enters the code on their computing device to receive guest access on the enterprises WLAN.
"Were using the basic features that the carriers provide, but were not going through the carriers in a business sense," Grossner said. "Its secure and traceable and can be deployed in 30 minutes."
Grossner said Sesame Networks, which specializes in identity management solutions, intends to expand in the U.S. market and "will be looking at other services that require the authenticated network."