DISA tests wireless LAN products

In March, the Defense Information Systems Agency began evaluating various wireless local-area network (WLAN) products, such as access points, wireless switches and dedicated security software.

"Security is still the pre-eminent problem facing government agencies," said Peter Zarrella, a computer specialist in DISA's chief technology officer's office. "It's the fear that wireless deployments are plagued with holes that can be attacked by hackers."

One of the first products DISA looked at was Cranite Systems Inc.'s WirelessWall 2.0, an authentication and user management system for WLANs. Also in March, the National Institute of Standards and Technology certified that WirelessWall was compliant with Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2, a requirement for cryptography-related products purchased by the U.S. government.

WirelessWall "secures who's able to get in and what rights you have once you get into the network," Zarrella said. "It sets a firewall on the network side, blocking anybody trying to get in beyond the [WLAN] access point or switch."

Government reseller iGov.com has just begun to roll out 25-user and 100-user pilot bundles using Cranite's security software, plus WLAN gear from Proxim Inc., SMC Networks Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

"We believe that the [Advanced Encryption Standard] encryption with Cranite WirelessWall implemented correctly makes WLANs as secure as a correctly implemented secure 'wired' network," said Bill Moore, iGov's vice president of technical services.

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