Interlink Networks of Ann Arbor, Mich., has introduced an embedded software solution called Padlock that can apply enterprise-class 802.1X standards to more humble wireless local area networks (WLANs). Padlock will be offered for sale to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) of home- and small-office WLAN products, to be incorporated into their products.
The software will use the functionality of advanced Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or 802.1X authentication with a RADIUS server into home networks. Effectively the access point becomes the authentication server for the home or small- to medium-sized business.
Most small offices and especially homes shy away from such complex security, but Randy Dence, vice president of marketing and product management at Interlink, says that while generally "it would be difficult for users ... what we've done is simplify it. The setup is as simple as one screen for entering the usernames and passwords, and then clicking to enable security."
Padlock will support Microsoft and Cisco's protected extensible authentication protocol (PEAP) types. Dence also says that configuration through the software is less complex than today's Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or Pre-Shared Key (PSK), because users can use their favorite passwords instead of the mandated 20-character passwords.
Padlock is designed for OEMs to simply "drop-in" to their own router or access point user interface software, and Interlink provides APIs for tying it in more closely to the setup procedures; for example, a vendor could require the end user to set up Padlock functionality to make sure the WLAN is secured. The software is based on Interlink's own full-fledged RADIUS server, but scaled down to handle tens of users instead of thousands.
Padlock will likely make its way into products sometime in 2004; Interlink is in discussions with vendors now about incorporating it.
"To help enterprise adoption of WLANs in 2004, IT groups will dictate the network access," says Dence. "They'll push for a higher level of security. We think that it will be important for that to be adopted at home as well it's got to meet the levels that IT dictates for the enterprise.
Adapted from Wi-Fi Planet.com.