Wi-Fi Network Security SMBs Can Afford

by Naomi Graychase

Wi-Fi newcomer Corriente Networks offers a level of wireless security previously available only to big businesses with big IT budgets. Why pay thousands of dollars when hundreds could do the job?

Corriente Networks, a small, privately held software developer in Berkeley, California, recently releases its first product, Elektron, software designed to authenticate people who access your wireless network.

The key difference is that Elektron offers enterprise-grade capability, which is priced and designed to provide security for SMBs with Wi-Fi networks. It provides RADIUS /802.1Xauthentication services — most large enterprises running wireless networks use some type of RADIUS software — and offers support for the popular Wi-Fi security authentication protocols, including PEAP and TTLS. Another key distinction: Elektron supports not only Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.3 clients using built-in Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), but also open source and third party software.

They say it's so easy to set up that clicking through a simple software wizard makes it fully operational. Perhaps more importantly, SMBs won't have to pay through the nose to take advantage of its high-end security options. What's it cost? $299 direct from Corriente.

"We are targeting small companies that may not even have an IT staff," says Chris Hawk, one of the principals at Corriente. "Customers just double-click the installer, and it interviews you, and then you're done."

The roughly $300 price tag—with none of the hefty per-seat fees charged by enterprise-focused companies—may start a new trend in this segment of the Wi-Fi security market. Enterprise-level competitors offer solutions that cost upwards of $5,000, out of reach for most small businesses. Direct competitors for SMB dollars include LucidLink, which offers a product varies in price from $99-$895 (or more), depending on the number of users. Wireless Security Corporation's WSC Guard provides a security service for roughly five dollars per-person per-month. Both LucidLink and WSC Guard require special clients