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Ruckus announces Secure Hotspot

Wi-Fi tech said to make unprotected hotspots more secure

Baghdadi: While hotspot traffic is growing, so are identity theft, fraud and other criminal activities.
Baghdadi: While hotspot traffic is growing, so are identity theft, fraud and other criminal activities.

Wi-Fi specialist Ruckus Wireless Inc announced this week that it has unveiled a technology called Secure Hotspot that the company claims is a "first-of-its kind Smart Wi-Fi that automatically helps protect open Wi-Fi communications for users without cumbersome and manual configuration of their devices".

Based on the company's patented Dynamic Pre-Shared Key (Dynamic PSK) and using its proprietary Zero IT Activation technologies, Secure Hotspot allows an operator or enterprise to offer secured encrypted access to public network Wi-Fi services by automatically configuring each device with Wi-Fi network information along with a unique pre-shared key, all without user involvement, according to Ruckus.

According to a recent industry report from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and Informa Telecoms & Media, the number of public hotspots worldwide is expected to almost triple from 2.1m in 2012 to nearly 6m in 2015.

is confident that with the expansion and reach for Wi-Fi adoption across the Middle East, "Ruckus' Secure Hotspot solution is a great add-on security defence layer to customers offering Wi-Fi services to their clients in areas such as retail, hospitality and other public customer service businesses," said Nader Baghdadi, regional sales director, Middle East, Ruckus.

"But while hotspot traffic is growing, so are identity theft, fraud and other criminal activities that can be made possible through access to unencrypted confidential information. Users are becoming more aware and more fearful that their communications at open hotspots could be compromised."


While most businesses with a knowledgeable IT staff will take the time to secure their internal wireless infrastructure with suitable encryption techniques, most public hotspots are not encrypted or protected in any way, Ruckus argues.  This means that users are potentially vulnerable to attacks or confidentiality breaches. This is also a major problem for enterprises with limited IT staff that want to offer safer guest access but don't have the time or expertise to implement robust wireless security. Authentication (i.e., who is the user and what is the device) and encryption (data protection) are the two primary security items that need to be addressed, Ruckus believes.

With Secure Hotspot, when a user connects to an open Wi-Fi network they are presented with an option to establish a protected connection. If the user agrees, the Ruckus ZoneDirector WLAN controller automatically generates a unique, 63-character pre-shared key that is bound to that specific user's device.

Using Ruckus Zero IT Activation capabilities, the dynamically generated pre-shared key is then combined with the requisite Wi-Fi configuration setting and is automatically made available to be installed within the user's device through a small, temporary applet. Based on this installed configuration and pre-shared key, the user's device can then use encrypted Wi-Fi network communications without the user having to select or enter any wireless configuration information, Ruckus said.

Network access can be deactivated when a user leaves, new keys can be generated periodically as needed, and the technology is configurable per wireless LAN.

At the heart of Secure Hotspot is Ruckus-patented Dynamic Pre-Shared Key technology. Once enabled for the entire system, a new user connects to the network and authenticates to the Ruckus ZoneDirector WLAN controller. Apple's iOS, Google's Android and other mobile devices can be authenticated through the same process. This information can also be checked against any standard back-end authentication (AAA) server such as Active Directory, RADIUS, LDAP or an internal user database on the ZoneDirector.