ILabs team weighs wireless security options

Testers create largest 802.1X interop lab, demo Web-based authentication and wireless IPSec, and show how WEP can work.

By Joel Snyder
Network World, 09/09/02

Original Article on Network World Web Site

The NetWorld+Interop 2002 InteropNet Labs (iLabs) will focus on three technologies this week in Atlanta: wireless security, IP storage and Multi-Protocol Label Switching.

Hot-staged in a warehouse near San Francisco, dozens of iLabs volunteers combine products that employ these technologies and deploy them on a single network to test interoperability and compatibility. Once the network is assembled and tested, the iLabs team packages and ships it to Atlanta, where show attendees can get a hands-on experience with the products tested.

Network World holds exclusive access to the iLabs hot stage and places members of the Network World Global Test Alliance on the iLabs technology teams to get firsthand knowledge of the testing taking place within them. Last April we covered all three technologies.

In this round of iLabs testing we focused on wireless security, with Global Test Alliance member Joel Snyder, a senior partner at Opus One participating in the testing and gleaning information useful to enterprise network professionals.

In this exclusive package of stories, Snyder reports on how the iLabs wireless security team divided its testing into four parts, each addressing a different security strategy for wireless networking based on differing enterprise requirements.

The iLabs wireless network is based on 802.1X, the newly minted IEEE standard for authentication and authorization in LANs, especially 802.11-based wireless LANs. The iLabs team tested five 802.1X clients, five 802.11b wireless access points and six authentication servers.

The second wireless security strategy is based on browser-based authentication, for environments where maximum compatibility with existing equipment is required. The third wireless strategy uses IP Security as an authentication and security mechanism. The final strategy shows the much-maligned wired equivalent privacy (WEP) encryption algorithm as at least an alternative to having no security at all.

ILabs engineers will be on-hand at NetWorld+Interop 2002 Atlanta to answer your questions about the specific technologies.