Cisco, Intel and BT join forces on wireless security

Cisco, Intel and BT today announced a joint initiative to ensure wireless security is built into future devices and services rather than bolted on when needed.

The move has been prompted by the evolution of wireless standards – specifically the adoption of WPA version 2.

As this requires new hardware rather than simply upgrading existing software, the companies see this as an opportunity to ensure equipment supports this standard from the outset, and avoid the development of proprietary enhancements to technologies that will only work when all your equipment is from the same vendor.

Cisco’s Vincent Bieri, Marketing Manager Security Technology EMEA, said that it’s not uncommon for conflicting proprietary technologies in devices and routers to result in connections that are the least secure possible, or no connection at all.

It is also an attempt to put some confidence back into wireless security, which has had something of a pummelling in the press, with the likes of the WEP standard being cracked. In short, they are hoping it is a fresh start.

The collaborative effort will mean Intel chips going into end-user devices and Cisco routers supporting the standard, and BT services designed to expect that level of security in order to grant access to its networks.

With that in mind, Cisco will cease further enhancements to its LEAP wireless security standard although. It will, however, continue to support it for existing customers.

In order to drive uptake of wireless security, the companies are also taking part in an education offensive to engage both businesses, operators of hotspots and consumers, and to encourage them to demand products and services with security built-in.

The 802.11-based networks are only one aspect, however. The likes of Cisco are also working with the GSM Forum to promote the same level of security for connections made over GSM networks.

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