Switches Team for Security

By Eric Griffith

February 23, 2004

As the wireless LAN switch market heats up, many vendors are looking to partners to provide the little extra something they lack: high security.

Last year there was a rush of startup wireless LAN "switch" vendors looking to get to market with their hardware. Now many are looking to beef up their offerings with more advanced security solutions by partnering with third-party security and authentication vendors.

Over the last week, Legra Systems, Chantry Networks and Aruba Networks have all made announcements to strengthen the security their products offer.

Chantry has teamed with Blue Ridge Networks to integrate its BeaconWorks system with Blue Ridge's security communications platform. That platform is FIPS-140 certified for use by the federal government.

Meanwhile, Legra and Aruba are both working closely with Funk Software of Cambridge, Mass. Funk is a leading developer of Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) servers, used for the authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) found on many enterprise networks. Funk also makes the Odyssey client software for use with 802.1X-based authentication to RADIUS servers. Both companies say their systems will work seamlessly with Funk's products.

In addition to working with Funk, Aruba is also partnering with Zone Labs, makers of the popular ZoneAlarm personal firewall software, on what Aruba co-founder and vice president of product management Pankaj Manglik calls "wireless remediation."

"Effectively that is making sure a device with anti-virus software or a firewall is running the right version and vendor of that product before it gets access [to the WLAN]," says Manglik. The policy is enforced by the Zone Labs Integrity policy engine. This is similar to policy-based security recently announced by hotspot aggregator services such as iPass and GRIC.

This policy enforcement would take place in the enterprise office, where workstations would be checked against a number of factors, from updates of anti-virus and firewall software to operating system updates. Anyone without the required updates as set forth by the network administrator would be quarantined for remediation, sent to get updates, or given restricted access to the network.

Aruba is also going to offer two-factor authentication based on RSA Security's SecurID, which uses a combination of passwords and physical tokens (like a USB keyring) before allowing users access. Aruba is now a part of the RSA Secured Partner Program.

Aruba is also offering a 30-day free trial copy of Funk and Zone Labs products with its WLAN switch.

"What we've done to protect the network historically was not enough," says Manglik.



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