DeviceScape Targets Security

By Eric Griffith

November 08, 2005

The company's new embedded software is meant for OEMs and vendors who want to provide the full suite of security options on Wi-Fi products — not just WEP.

Tired of seeing brand new products come out with Wi-Fi — when the only security they support is the old wired equivalent privacy (WEP), and not the improvements from Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and 802.11i, even 802.1X authentication?

Apparently, so was DeviceScape of Brisbane, California. The company makes software for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to embed with 802.11 chips of all types, using the DeviceScape software to provide all the functionality. This week, it announced version 1.0 of its DeviceScape Secure Wireless Client (SWC), which will provide security at the highest level — currently WPA2 for enterprise use — on down, in just about any client device.

"The opportunity we see is that 99 percent of people use laptops to get on Wi-Fi networks, with a small first generation of other Wi-Fi products — handsets, music streamers, things like that— that are hard to use. The security hasn't been good, performance has not been great," says Glenn Flinchbaugh, the company's vice president of marketing. The plan is for the SWC software to build in the ease-of-use and advanced security needed by those first generation products using Wi-Fi.

DeviceScape is working with major Wi-Fi chip vendors such as Atheros, Broadcom and Marvell to ensure that the software works with the products based on their silicon. The company is optimizing the software for voice over IP on Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) as well.

Flinchbaugh says DeviceScape is also the only software company that has a license from Cisco Systems — the 800-pound gorilla of Wi-Fi infrastructure equipment in corporations — to build in Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX) for embedded devices. The extensions are used by client devices to get guaranteed access to any network running Cisco equipment.

"That gives us a very interesting position in the marketplace," says Flinchbaugh. "There's a lot of things like printers, projectors and others that want to use CCX."

SWC will have versions with CCX and without (since most home networks would not require it), and DeviceScape says it will provide options for home and office users. "We try to deliver additional technology in homes for connection management," says Flinchbaugh. "Our technology sees what kind of network it's on, senses the router, [and] it automatically provides configuration parameters, making it transparent to the user."

This automatic setup doesn't extend to inserting keys for security, WEP or WPA, which is still the province of third party solutions such as SecureEasySetup from Broadcom. However, the Wi-Fi Alliance is working toward a standardized way of setting up security keys, and DeviceScape is involved in the efforts.

Instead, says Flinchbaugh, "We do preference lists. Necessary security parameters are entered, saved, and automatically stored and recovered as the user goes from one network to another. They don't need to enter [the keys] again." He says it's similar to how Windows XP handles its preferred networks list, but will also work on devices that aren't laptops.

The company has software that's complementary to the SWC for access points and routers. Earlier this year, they launched a Linux stack supporting Wi-Fi.

Vendors worried about compatibility between the SWC software and other products probably shouldn't: the software will be part of the testbed used by the Wi-Fi Alliance for certification. Currently, SWC runs on Linux, Windows CE 5.0 and Windows Mobile 5.0 out of the box. Products running it today include a Wi-Fi TV from Sharp, printers from Brother, and the Palm LifeDrive.

DeviceScape will help any vendor get its software running on any operating system or microprocessor for the cost of $50,000 per project.

Originally published on .

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