Funk Supports WPA2 in Upgrade

By Naomi Graychase

November 02, 2004

The new release of the company's 802.1X client software offers all the latest in top-notch wired and wireless security.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Funk Software, one of the top players in the world of wired and wireless network access security solutions, yesterday announced Odyssey Client v3.1, an upgrade to their secure 802.1X access client. The upgrade offers support for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), the next generation of Wi-Fi security, based on the final 802.11i standard.

The new Odyssey Client software also adds support for the WLAN protocols EAP-FAST and EAP-SIM and Microsoft machine credentials.

"Wireless is wonderful, except for the security concerns," says Kevin Walsh, Funk Software's Director of Product Management. "You don't want to compromise your corporate credentials, like user names and passwords. Because a wireless network is connected over the airwaves, anyone with a $39 device can listen. That's where WPA2 comes in, because it uses AES, the pinnacle of security, to protect your data."

802.11i was ratified just a few months ago by the IEEE, and became the basis for WPA2 from the Wi-Fi Alliance. It uses the heavy-hitting security encryption algorithm AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) to secure data. It offers the strongest security currently available, as well as faster roaming between access points. WPA2's predecessor, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) uses the encryption algorithm TKIP, which Odyssey Client has supported since July 2003. In addition to AES-based data security, WPA2 supports 802.1X authentication in traditional infrastructure networks, and accelerates re-authentication using key caching and pre-authentication techniques.

"WPA2 is the biggest of the three big pieces of news with this product," says Walsh. "I think WPA2 is important to the industry as a whole. Some people have been waiting for it to deploy wireless in their corporate environment, and consumers are anxiously awaiting this level of protection for their devices."

Well known in the market for its multi-vendor compatibility, Odyssey Client v3.1 also adds support for Cisco's EAP-FAST WLAN protocol, as well as for EAP-SIM, the WLAN protocol that allows GSM operators to authenticate customers accessing the network from an 802.1X-based hotspot against their existing Subscriber Information Management (SIM)-based infrastructure. (The GSM operator must also be running Funk Software's Steel-Belted Radius/SS7 Gateway.)

"We have the broadest recipe of EAP types of any supplicant today," says Walsh. "If you're using the Windows XP supplicant, you don't get that full list of products. For an end user, Odyssey is like an insurance policy, because you don't have to know what you're going to be using three to six months from now. You can be certain Funk will meet your needs, because we are committed to supporting these standards."

In addition to supporting WPA2, EAP-SIM, and EAP-FAST, Odyssey Client v3.1 can use Microsoft machine credentials to authenticate machines to the network when a user is not logged in. This streamlines administration, because machines can be directly authenticated against their computer account in Active Directory.

"We stand out here," says Walsh. "The Funk products are not forcing you to choose your standards. We don't have a second agenda—I don't have hardware to sell you. I'm not trying to sell you a NIC card for your laptop or a hotspot. We're a universal provider. We're focused in this space, so all of our products are completely dedicated to this space, no matter what your authentication method is. That resonates to our customer base and through the market. We're Switzerland—we're a neutral provider. If it works with Funk, it'll work with anything."

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