LucidLink Announces Security Upgrade

By Ed Sutherland

September 15, 2004

The relatively new software, which makes security simple for SMBs, is already getting a customer-demanded update to support more access points and to plug a potential hole.

Interlink Networks is already updating their new LucidLink Wireless Security software, adding support for more access points and removing a potential hole in the wireless safety net for small and medium-sized businesses.

LucidLink targets small and medium-sized businesses looking for RADIUS-level WLAN user authentication without the associated expense (no dedicated server needed) or steep learning curve. The Wi-Fi security experience has been distilled down to two mouse clicks and 15 minutes, instead of 177 mouse clicks and up to 16 hours to set up the traditional RADIUS server, says Mike Klein, Interlink's president and CEO.

That doesn't mean the software was perfect, however. In response to a "tremendous amount of requests" from users of the software, LucidLink is boosting its support of access points from six to 16. The software package now supports APs from 3Com, Cisco, D-Link, Linksys, Motorola, Proxim, SMC, Symbol and ZyXel. LucidLink will work with "any access point that is 802.1X-compatible," says Klein. He says the company is testing many other AP brands in their labs.

A possible entry point for hackers has also been sealed by Interlink. The security key information stored on a laptop is now encrypted, says Klein. In previous versions, the security information was stored simply in the Windows Registry, where it could be easily copied to another computer and used to login.

"The security key information is now encrypted and bound to the client machine, ensuring that credentials cannot be compromised even if a user's laptop is stolen," according to a prepared statement. If a laptop is stolen, the WLAN administrator using LucidLink can disable the account with a single mouse click, says Klein.

LucidLink employs two levels of security. To provide WLAN administrators the widest compatibility, it uses WEP encryption or WPA-Enterprise (with RADIUS) for maximum security.

There are three parts to the LucidLink system: the LucidLink Server, Management Console and LucidLink client software.

When Jupiter Research conducted a study of wireless use among small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, 53 percent of those responding cited poor network security as a barrier to WLAN deployment, according to Julie Ask, a Jupiter Research analyst.

In addition, she says the research survey discovered that "ease of installation and configuration were the number one item selected."

Given those results, LucidLink "sounds like they will make their product more attractive to small and medium businesses -- a good thing in a competitive market where we're likely to see consolidation in the next year or so," according to Ask.

Before the release of this software, "small businesses have been left out of security," says Klein.

He says he often encountered the thinking that "you can be secure or you can be simple, but you can't be both," which he says is a myth.

A user first logging into a LucidLink-aware access point is greeted with a dialog box providing contact information for the WLAN administrator. The network administrator, who could be the office manager, uses the Management Console to authorize the client, setting an expiration date. This information is then stored on the client computer.

LucidLink was born from Klein's experience trying to tap the SMB market. For 12 years, Interlink has marketed RADIUS security to large enterprises. Although small and medium-sized businesses wanted RADIUS-class WLAN security, they were unwilling to pay the price or invest in the training and expertise needed to operate it.

The reaction has been positive, according to Klein. Interlink plans to expand the range of computer platforms on which LucidLink runs. This fall, the company will release software for Windows NT computers. Wi-Fi router makers have expressed interest in offering LucidLink as an easy way for customers to secure their small wireless networks.

Pricing for the LucidLink Wireless Security software package begins at $449 for a 10-user license.



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