VeriSign, Microsoft Plan for Wi-Fi Security

By Eric Griffith

April 21, 2005

The two companies plan to combine their authentication schemes to keep networks safe from clients with security issues.

VeriSign says it is working with Microsoft on solutions to secure corporations with users who employ Wi-Fi at work, home or in public.

They are working together on a reference architecture that will be based on both VeriSign's Unified Authentication (UA) and Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP).

The purpose is to let IT staff prevent client devices (endpoints) that don't adhere to company security policies from getting on the corporate network and causing damage, whether malicious or unintentional.

According to Mark Griffiths, Vice President of Authentication Services at VeriSign, the two companies are working right now on a white paper covering this, which they hope to publish "in the not to distant future."

UA from VeriSign uses multi-factor authentication such as USB keys or smart cards, even one-time use passwords, to confirm the identity of a user. This would not necessarily be required in the architecture the company is working on with Microsoft, however. UA will provide a certificate of health to an endpoint, which would be compared each time the computer logs into the NAP network. If anything has changed, users could be locked out or advised to make changes that once again meet the corporate policy. UA will integrate with Microsoft's authentication servers and Active Directory.

Companies in the Wi-Fi space like Bluesocket are already working with NAP to try and protect client devices.

Last year, VeriSign started the Open Authentication Reference Architecture (OATH), through which it hopes to push authentication standards for use on all networks, wired and wireless, from the corporation to the ISP.

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