Linksys Promotes High Level Wi-Fi Security
By Mike Masnick, Thu Jun 03 21:45:00 GMT 2004

After facing complaints for years that security settings on most common wireless equipment was neither easy nor particularly secure, Linksys is forging ahead with a plan to make strong Wi-Fi security meet both criteria -- for a price.

When Wi-Fi first started catching on, almost no one paid much attention to the security issues. There were some people who spoke about it constantly, but they were often brushed off as being overly concerned. However, in the past year, the mainstream press seems to have picked up on Wi-Fi security threats, and it seems a week doesn't go by without yet another article about Wi-Fi security issues.

At the end of each of these, many people have been left wondering why the Wi-Fi equipment makers don't push security. The response is usually that they want the equipment to be easy to set up, and are worried that having security settings on by default will only cause confusion - and require additional (costly) support.

However, as the number of "Wi-Fi security is a problem" articles grows larger every week, it appears that some equipment makers are taking the matter seriously. Linksys made a big move today in setting up a plan to resell 802.1X authentication from Wireless Security Corporation (WSC) as a service costing $4 to $5 per user per month (depending on the number of users). The service itself isn't that interesting -- as WSC was already offering it directly at the identical prices. What's big about this announcement is that Linksys is bundling it with its WAP54G device and promoting it heavily.

The writeup at Wi-Fi Networking News does an excellent job going through the technology and how it works, but the big story here is that Linksys is pushing such an easy-to-use security solution that really is quite secure. It also looks like this is only the beginning of the line, as WSC is looking at offering additional security such as VPN services, which could mean that a service like HotSpotVPN may finally get some competition. The big question, though, is whether or not all the hype about security will make people willing to pay for these solutions? At the very least, a bit of competition in the space should provide for cheaper solutions, or at least creative business models.