Wireless systems specialist Ruckus has unveiled Secure Hotspot, a secure WiFi platform that automatically helps protect open WiFi communication by allowing an operator or enterprise to offer encrypted access to public network WiFi services through automatic configuration of each device with the requisite WiFi network information along with a unique pre-shared key.
With Secure Hotspot, when a user connects to an open WiFi network his is presented with an option to establish a protected connection. If the user agrees, the company’s ZoneDirector wireless local area network (WLAN) controller automatically generates a unique, 63-character pre-shared key that is bound to that specific user’s device. The technology is a no-cost software capability within the Ruckus ZoneFlex software suite that operates on ZoneDirector WLAN controllers.
At the heart of Secure Hotspot is the company’s Dynamic Pre-Shared Key technology. Once enabled for the entire system, a new user connects to the network and authenticates to the Ruckus ZoneDirector WLAN controller, and Apple iOS, Google Android and other mobile devices can be authenticated through the same process. This information can also be checked against any standard back-end authentication (AAA) server such as Active Directory, Radius, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) or an internal user database on the ZoneDirector.
Using Ruckus Zero IT Activation capabilities, the pre-shared key is then combined with the requisite WiFi configuration setting and is automatically made available to be installed within the user’s device through a small, temporary applet. Based on this installed configuration and pre-shared key, the user’s device can then use encrypted WiFi network communications without the user having to select or enter any wireless configuration information.
Public WiFi is one of the locations where a user’s computer, tablet or smartphone is most vulnerable to attack, and while hotspot traffic is growing, so are identity theft, fraud and other criminal activities that can be made possible through access to unencrypted confidential information.
According to a recent industry report from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and Informa Telecoms & Media, the number of public hotspots worldwide is expected to more than double from 2.1 million in 2012 to nearly 6 million in 2015. The survey also indicated security was among the top barriers to wider adoption and usage of WiFi among end users.
In March, Ruckus unveiled a suite of four WiFi mobile applications designed to assist system integrators, value-added resellers and network administrators in conducting site surveys and WLAN performance tests, as well as remotely monitoring Ruckus Smart WLAN environments and conducting performance comparisons between Ruckus and third-party WiFi access points. With the applications, network managers are able to determine where to best place WiFi access points for optimal coverage and performance.