Professionals set for exclusive Net address

New wireless security gateways from Bluesocket target new features at small and large enterprises.

For big companies, Bluesocket introduced the Wireless Gateway (WG)-2000, a new high-end box designed to handle security for emerging 54-Mbit/sec 802.11a wireless LANs. The WG-2000 includes the following new features:

-- Hardware to speed up data encryption, up to 150M bit/sec.

-- Network interface cards for Ethernet 10/100/1000 nets.

-- A choice of fiber as well as copper Gigabit interfaces.

The box attaches to a network of wireless access points on one side, and a company's wired LAN on the other. All Bluesocket gateways support the various available 802.11b and 802.11a wireless LAN (WLAN), as well as HiperLAN II and Bluetooth wireless nets. Pricing starts at US$12,995 and the product will be available in August.

For smaller companies, the vendor introduced the WG-1000 Small Office Edition (SOE), designed for small to medium enterprises, branch offices, and departments with up to 15 users. To box eliminates a range of management features that very small nets can do without, and has been designed to install easily without the need for highly trained IT staff. As a result the suggested list price is $3,495. Bluesocket sells the SOE through distributors and resellers. More information can be found at Bluesocket's Web site.

Bluesocket and a small group of other vendors, such as Vernier Networks Inc., are creating a security alternative to VPNs. Today, enterprise VPNs treat the WLAN as a potentially hostile net, as they do the Internet, bringing an IPSec connection to a VPN server. Then, the wireless clients must authenticate before they connect with the WLAN. VPNs can have a substantial administrative overhead. For example, VPN software has to be installed on all wireless clients, while a server program runs on one or more dedicated servers.

By contrast, the security gateway, as the name implies, acts as a funnel, collecting all traffic from the access point, and applying a broad range of security controls: authentication (with existing RAIDIUS, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, Active Directory and Windows Domain databases), access control, encrypted sessions and so on. Bluesocket has also added a range of class of service features to classify traffic into different categories of importance. As a result, employees, managers, visitors, business partners all can be assigned differing degrees of access to the corporate net.

Just last month, Bluesocket unveiled Version 2.0 software for its gateways. The new version includes patent-pending technology that lets any wireless user maintain secure and unsecure connections when moving from one wireless subnet to another. There's no need for users to log on repeatedly, and re-authenticate, with each move. Also in the new version is a feature that lets the gateway connect to a RADIUS server so that data about a user's access and activity can be recorded.

Finally, Version 2.0 includes interfaces to network management applications from Hewlett-Packard Co., Tivoli Systems Inc., and others that use SNMP Versions 1, 2c or 3.

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