Intersil Looks Beyond WEP

By Brian Morrissey

June 10, 2002

Unveiling new security software, the 802.11 chipset maker hopes to take the lead in shoring up security for wireless LANs.

Looking to plug the security holes in wireless local area networks (LANs), 802.11 chipset maker Intersil Corp. announced new security software it called "a significant first step toward a totally automated and secure wireless environment."

Intersil said the new software extends 802.1x to pre-XP Windows operating systems and supports the major authentication standards, including EAP-TLS, EAP-TTLS, Cisco's LEAP, and MD5. The software adapts to its security environment, providing key distribution to authenticate users.

Security concerns are a top issues facing the booming 802.11 industry. Recent research by the Gartner Group warned that 30 percent of enterprises using wireless LANs would experience serious security exposures before the end of the year.

The Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption developed in 802.11's early days is the culprit usually fingered for the porous defenses. Many in the industry hope that 802.1x, a standard developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers' Task Group I, will solve part of the security puzzle by providing a robust tool for authenticating wireless LAN users.

"While standard WEP encryption provided some level of security and privacy in the wireless LAN space, authentication of the user and the ability to rapidly change the encryption key to foil hackers and eavesdroppers have been the missing elements," Dave Feller, director of marketing for Intersil's wireless networking product group, said in a statement.

Irvine, Calif.-based Intersil is a leading 802.11 chipset maker. Gartner estimates the 802.11 chipset market will grow from 7.5 million manufactured last year to 45 million in 2005. Last week, the company announced it would make a dual band chipset, called PRISM Duette, which will configure to both the 802.11g and 802.11 standards. Duette is slated for availability sometime early next year.



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