Apple Boost AirPort Security, Features

Software programmers at Apple released the latest
iteration of its wireless networking solution, AirPort 2.0, Tuesday,
sporting new security and compatibility enhancements.

The free download enhancement is part of the software company’s strategy to
spur growth in its wireless networking hub, which is ideal for schools and
businesses as it removes much of the cost needed to provide a network
connection.

Philip Schiller, Apple vice president of worldwide product marketing, said
the AirPort’s compatibility with America Online — the first
wireless local area network (WLAN) solution for AOL users to date — is
only one of the many improvements to its software package.

“The tremendous success of AirPort over the last two years has made Apple
the leader in wireless networking,” Schiller said. “Now we’re adding
another industry first with support for American Online and
great new security features like a built-in firewall and 128-bit encryption.”

The following software and hardware enhancements boost Apple’s wireless
local area networking (WLAN) device:

  • Firewall protection to prevent unauthorized access.
  • RADIUS support that lets schools and businesses manage the base
    station at one point. .
  • Support for 128-bit data encryption. .
  • 10/100BASE-T port for LAN connections .
  • Incorporation of Cisco System Inc.’s lightweight efficient application
    protocol (LEAP) to prevent hackers from “piggybacking” onto a wireless
    Internet connection.

In addition to AOL, EarthLink (the second-largest ISP
in the nation behind AOL) has been AirPort-compatible for more than a year.

While a spokesperson at AOL said they don’t release the number of
subscribers by operating system (OS), it’s a given that with more than 26
million U.S. AOL subscribers, more than a few of them use the popular Mac
OS standard on their computer.

The service is available with AOL 5.0 only but will be compatible with AOL
for Mac OS X, which is expected to launch later this year. AirPort is
already compatible with AOL for Mac OS 9.

The AirPort base station is a football-shaped device connected to the
Internet and planted at a central location. Using the 802.11b wireless
protocol standard, Apple techs said up to 50 people could connect at speeds
up to 11Mbps from a distance of 150 feet. With an Apple computer running
the AirPort administration, PC users can also get a wireless Internet
connection.

Pricing for the AirPort base station is about the norm for a wireless hub,
at about $299. The PC card runs at $99.

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