Automatic Security for the People
March 30, 2004
Buffalo hopes its new wireless router will help set a standard for dynamic encryption on WLANs, assuming other vendors sign on to use the technology.
Buffalo Technology is the leader of the pack for sales of SOHO/SMB wireless products in Asia, and they don't do bad in the United States either, according to Synergy Research Group , which tracks sales of Wi-Fi products world wide.
While its products aren't known for polish, particularly in the software interface, Buffalo is trying to overcome what becomes a stumbling block for many casual users: security. Late last year, the company announced a technology it calls the AirStation One-Touch Secure System (AOSS). It lets a router automatically serve up all the security settings to other products it connects with.
This week the company announced its first product shipping in the US with AOSS on board, the 802.11g-based AirStation 54Mbps Wireless Cable/DSL Router (model WBR2-G54). In January Buffalo said it had a firmware upgrade with AOSS ready for the AirStation 54Mbps Wireless Ethernet Converter -g (model WLI-TX1-G54).Buffalo says the AOSS software will support wired equivalent privacy (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), whatever the highest level of security is supported by the client. While Buffalo is unique in that it ships products with an AES chip inside for advanced encryption, AOSS is limited to using TKIP as its highest level of security.
Any person with an AOSS capable client system in range of the router should be able to access the router with full security turned on, though a button has to be pushed on the router to grant access.
While the company hopes to license AOSS and see it show up in products from other vendors, for now they say they can't disclose who, if any, might do so.
The new WBR2-G54 router will feature WDS support for bridging, comes with an internal antenna (but can support an external), and has the usual gamut of routing services, from DHCP to Ethernet ports. It adds a privacy separator to keep users from accessing each other's computers, and has an intrusion detection firewall. The output power is adjustable to change signal strength, another unique feature on a product that is expected to ship for $99. It should be on sale in early April.