Startup Launches Outsourced WLAN Security Service

Wireless Security Corp. is aiming its service at small and midsize companies that can't provide their own security.
A startup on Wednesday launched an outsourced wireless LAN security service aimed at small and midsize businesses that don't have the internal resources or expertise to provide their own security.

The service from Wireless Security Corp. uses an outside-the-firewall authentication center that employs Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (Radius) technology, according to Terry Lillie, the company's chief technology officer.

The authentication process also uses Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) rotating key technology, Lillie said. In addition, the company's WSC Guard software must be loaded on access points and wireless-enabled laptops and desktops. Each user registers with the authentication center, a process that provides a unique service set identifier, a user name, and a password. A management counsel lets network managers perform typical administration functions such as granting rights to users.

Because WSC's software is required on both the client and the access point, the system doesn't work with hot spots, Lillie acknowledged. And it only works on Windows 2000 and Windows XP clients, although Lillie said he expects support for mobile devices such as handhelds by year's end.

One analyst who's looked at WSC's system said the company may have found a viable niche.

"The small and medium-sized businesses have the same security issues as enterprises but they don't have the resources to protect their networks," said Chris Neal, research director for Sage Research. WSC is "meeting a real market need." However, he said he's skeptical that larger companies will embrace WSC's offering. "IT directors in larger enterprises have a real aversion to outsourced security," he said--though he added that big companies may have interest in using the service to secure wireless LANs within the homes of telecommuters.

The company said the system works with virtually all widely used 802.11a, b and g equipment. It's priced at about $8 per month per user.

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