SonicWall zones in secure Wi-Fi access

New technology from SonicWall offers smaller companies a way to integrate wireless and wired network security

Internet security firm SonicWall on Tuesday launched its Distributed Wireless Solution, which allows network managers to create a "secure zone" for their wireless network to help integrate Wi-Fi security with their hard-wired network security.

Securing access to wireless networks isn't easy. The proposed secure wireless network standard, 802.11i, is still in progress and not expected to be finalised till later this year. Despite these problems, the use of wireless networks has increased dramatically over the past few years.

Jeff Wilson, principal analyst at Infonetics, said that companies, particularly smaller ones, have until now had virtually no options when trying to enforce security throughout both their wired and wireless networks.

"Wireless has changed the way we work, but network administrators are struggling to integrate wireless into their existing network security infrastructure," Wilson said.

SonicWall's SonicPoint 802.11a/b/g satellite access point is an attempt to bridge this gap. This 'governing' appliance can manage an enterprise's wireless access points and provide a central point from which to deploy security policy and authentication rules.

Mike Smart, European product manager at SonicWall, said companies already segment their networks into zones, so they are easier to manage. He suggests that they should also set up a 'wireless zone' so administrators can allow wireless users to access network resources throughout the organisation, regardless of which floor or building they are currently working in.

"Companies are using a head-end device like a firewall to segment their corporate network into sensible security zones like HR and R&D. Our device can manage remote access points and effectively becomes a wireless switch, so one of those zones could be a wireless zone," he said.

According to Smart, the company is expecting to add a global management application this summer that will allow companies to 'push' a security policy to all the access points in an organisation, regardless of their geographic location.

"For example, we could turn on guest services -- to allow visitors with basic Internet access over the corporate WLAN -- for 7,000 remote access points with just one configuration," Smart said.