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3Com, Cisco back new security standard

Two networking leaders have announced their support for the 802.1x authentication system to bolster wireless LAN security.

3Com and Cisco Systems have announced support for the IEEE 802.1x authentication standard, which is meant to offer centralised user identification, authentication, dynamic key management, and accounting to wireless networks. It's a stronger way of authenticating on a network than the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) algorithm, which is a part of the 802.11 standard. As reported by NME, WEP is vulnerable to a variety of passive and active attacks.

3Com said it will ship 802.1x in its line of business and public access wireless LAN solutions once the final standard is approved by the IEEE in the second half of 2001.

"3Com is committed to providing wireless solutions that help people and businesses of all sizes realize the freedom and convenience that wireless promises, but without needless complexity. Security implementations utilizing 802.1x fulfil this promise of simple yet secure connectivity solutions," said Paul Fulton, vice president and general manager, 3Com's Wireless Connectivity Division.

3Com recently fleshed out a new wireless strategy which focuses on reliable performance, mobility, security, and management. Since end user needs for security vary across organizations, 3Com offers a layered approach to security, including 40-bit WEP, VPNs using IPSec or PPTP in conjunction with RADIUS authentication, and a RADIUS-free VPN option using 128-bit Dynamic Session Key algorithm.

802.1x techniques are a notable feature in Microsoft's new Windows XP operating system, providing a "network login" capability between PCs and edge networking infrastructure.

“Secure…global roaming for the mobile user will be enabled by…IEEE 802.1x features included in Windows XP and standard-compliant hardware," said Jawad Khaki, vice president of Windows Networking and Communications for Microsoft.

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