Securing the airwaves
- By Brian Robinson
- Sep 11, 2000
When broadband wireless does come to handheld devices, providing security
for them will be a big headache. Using cell phones to make calls is one
thing, but when they are being used to send potentially sensitive information
across a network, that's altogether different.
"Wireless needs are generally the same as what they are for the wired world,
plus a lot more," said Mike Vergara, director of product marketing for RSA
Security Inc. and leader of the company's wireless security team. "You need
the same authentication, data privacy and data integrity features. And then
you need extra security in case the device is stolen, and you have to provide
all of that in a device with significantly more stringent size concerns.
Memory in a cell phone is a whole different thing [than that in a PC]."
The new generation of devices also must have their own version of a
wireless public-key infrastructure capability, something that will be a
major concern to government agencies. PKIs use cryptography to protect data
in transmission and digital certificates to ensure that only the authorized
recipient can decrypt the message.
However, the advantage is that wireless PKI is coming right on the heels
of development of the wired version, Vergara said.
"On the security side of this, people are starting to come together
on standards," Vergara said. "On the usability side, I don't know if I could
say the same thing."
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.