Cisco's Secure Access

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) today unveiled the first fruit of its Meetinghouse buyout -- launching client security software that can be used across wired and wireless networks.

Cisco bought the security company in July for $43.7 million. Today, the firm introduced its own-brand security "supplicant" that can be managed via its Wireless Control System (WCS). (See Cisco Buys WLAN Security Smarts.)

Supplicant client software sits on desktop computers, laptops, PDAs, and other devices, and enables secure network access via 802.1x server authentication. The new client supports WPA, WPA2, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK, and WEP encryption modes, as well as MD5, TLS, TTLS, LEAP, FAST, and PEAP Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) types.

Ben Gibson, director of wireless and mobility marketing at Cisco, says the new release is one more step in Cisco's strategy to enable management and security across wired and wireless networks. Customers, he adds, have been asking for this kind of functionality.

"They've been saying, 'As soon as you make it easier to manage from client on in, we'll deploy more pervasively,' " Gibson explains.

Cisco could further develop the software so that it could be used for a "substantial amount of additional client management," Gibson notes. This could include tasks like mass updates of security clients over wired and WiFi networks. The goal is to give users "a single point of management" for common security applications.

Today, users must buy additional third-party software to obtain this kind of functionality. Cisco's plans, however, reflect the general direction the wireless security market is heading. Cisco and major rival Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) are adding to their portfolios -- mainly via acquisitions -- and overrunning niche markets that once were the sole preserve of wireless security startups. (See Cisco's Funk Breakdown.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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