RealTime IT News

IEEE 802.1x Standard Used Successfully with Windows XP

Wayport, Inc., a provider of wireless and wired Internet connections at several airports and numerous hotels, announced today that it completed a pilot of the new Microsoft Windows XP operating system used in conjunction with 802.1x. Wayport and Microsoft began testing the combination in May 2001 at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, where Wayport has WLAN service already installed. The pilot ended in mid-summer.

802.1x is a standard drafted earlier this year by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) which is designed to provide enhanced security for users of Wi-Fi or 802.11b wireless LANs. The new standard provides port-level authentication for any wired or wireless Ethernet client system. 802.1x was originally designed as a standard for wired Ethernet, but is applicable to WLANs. It leverages many of the security features used with dial-up networking.

Windows XP and 802.1x provide for what is called zero configuration support, enabling laptops with a wireless adapter card to automatically detect and connect to wireless access points within range. Wireless LANs based on the 802.11 standards have come under intense scrutiny lately as their security based on the Wired Equivalency Protocol (WEP) has been found to be rather unreliable. The new 802.1x has a key management protocol built into its specification which provides keys automatically. Keys can also be changed rapidly at set intervals.

Wayport reported that another highlight of the Windows XP and 802.1x combination is that it allows link layer authentication, enabling seamless user authentication. Specifically, corporations will be able to use their active directories and databases to automatically authenticate employees. Wayport stated that this should effectively decrease implementation time for corporations.

Wayport service is currently available at four major U.S. airports and in many hotel chains. Wayport also recently acquired nine Laptop Lane locations in several airports, from which it provides both wireless and wired Internet connections and associated office services.

Matthew Peretz is Managing Editor of 802.11-Planet.com