Entrenching 802.1X

By Eric Griffith

August 15, 2002

Wind River plans to bring embedded 802.1X security support to home and small business routers and gateways via its home gateway software stack.

Wind River is announcing this month that it will ship its WindNet 802.1X solution as an option for OEM customers using the Tornado for Home Gateways product bundle. WindNet 802.1X will provide a control framework that's easier for Wind River customers to build in to their products.

"As 802.1x started to come to market, we saw an opportunity to extend our portfolio by offering security," says Jim Alfred, Market Development Manger for Broadband Access in the Digital Consumer Group at Wind River.

The WindNet 802.1X bundles are made specifically to integrate with their Tornado product. There are two bundles, one an authenticator and another supplicant. The authenticator comes with the WindNet RADIUS client 1.1.1 and an optional Host Access Point feature for PRISM chips form Intersil, though the WindNet 802.11b Driver Development Kit (DDK) allows for use of non-PRISM hardware as well. Current Wind River customers can integrate the security into wired and wireless products using device drivers for VxWorks, the real-time operating system used by the company.

WindNet 802.1X will support various flavors of extensible authentication protocol (EAP) including fast EAP-TLS, LEAP, EAP-TTLS, and EAP-GSS.

Wind River isn't a company you hear about every day ("you can sometimes find us mentioned when you boot a product up, and you might see VxWorks," says Alfred). However, if you're using 802.11a on an Atheros chipset, chances are good you're using their technology.

Wind River makes software and services for OEMs customers (wireless and other products) so they can get up and running with out having to reinvent the wheel for each new product.

"Atheros wanted to innovate on the chipset tech," says Alfred. "They decided to use Wind River stacks to focus on the value adds in the silicon side."

Wind River actually was showing demos of their products with 802.1X support as far back as the last Networld+Interop show, and will be showing the Authenticator at the next one in September in Atlanta.

"The whole idea behind the 802.1X is to simplify network management and access control. People weren't using security," says Alfred. Embedding in the underlying system of a wireless device will make the difference, according to him. "It adds a lot of power to the security mechanism and makes it more likely to be used. We add integration with our other middle ware and vertical platforms, so the end user can easily integrate it.

"We're doing a lot of the work the end user would have to hassle with."

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