Carrier WiFi

Airespace Gets the NAC

Wireless LAN switch startup Airespace Inc. has teamed up with chipmaker Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR) and security software specialist Funk Software Inc. to develop an improved handoff mechanism for 802.11i security (see Airespace Accelerates 802.11i ).

In addition, Airespace -– like a number of other vendors in the WLAN security business -- has added a virus protection mechanism to its software, which it dubs "NAC," for network access control (see Airespace Tightens Security).

Airespace is describing its co-development work with Atheros and Funk as an “extension” to the 802.11i standard that will work with standard clients but improves handoff performance.

In a standard 802.11i configuration, wireless devices need to constantly authenticate the security with a Radius server. Using the proactive key caching (PKC) extension, from Airespace and friends, a master key can be used by clients as they roam across a wireless network. This should reduce network latency, which is poison to real-time applications like voice-over-WLAN (VOWLAN).

Airespace says that PKC will become available as part of its software in September and will work with any Radius server and the Funk Odyssey client. Airespace is promising more Radius client support in coming months.

The firm's NAC is an application program interface-based anti-virus system that is designed to shut out wireless clients logging onto Airespace networks, while they are checked for viruses, spyware, and other wirelessly transmitted nasties. Airespace says that its system works across both Layer 2 and Layer 3 authentication mechanisms, unlike other NAC systems.

The firm is integrating with NAC “policy engines” from both Infoexpress Inc. and Zone Labs Inc., which will check what policies need to be enforced while the wireless client is “quarantined.”

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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