Wi-Fi Global Congress: Hotspot 2.0 standard addresses wireless security holes

At Wi-Fi Global Congress, Ruckus Wireless announces it will be first to market with the second release of Hotspot 2.0

At Wi-Fi Global Congress in London, supplier Ruckus Wireless unveiled what it claimsis the first Wi-Fi Alliance Passpoint-certified wireless local area network (WLAN) system for the second release of Hotspot 2.0, offering network owners a number of enhanced network security features.

Hotspot 2.0, also known as Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint, is based on the IEEE 802.11u standard. It was developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to allow devices to automatically join a wireless subscriber service on entering a Hotspot 2.0 area, which gives users better bandwidth and services-on-demand and alleviates traffic congestion.

Release 2 of the standard streamlines and secures client provisioning and fundamentally changes how user credentials are loaded onto a Wi-Fi-enabled device using WPA2 encryption, while assuring users they are connected to a secure network.

Ruckus said that despite the popularity of Wi-Fi, publicly available networks and hotspots could still “be frustrating and subject to security concerns” due to a lack of encryption and the inability for a client device to validate it.

The new technology will give users the ability to sign up to connect to a Wi-Fi service simply and securely, using standards-based methodology for automatic loading of credentials – including social media log-ons – and mobile configuration parameters onto their devices.

Up to now, there had been no standard methodology to perform those functions and no format to manage Hotspot 2.0 credentials on a mobile device.

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In theory, this will offer a higher level of Wi-Fi security for both public access and enterprise networks. Meanwhile, operators gain the ability to control service policy preferences to optimise the overall experience.

“Hotspot 2.0 effectively democratises public Wi-Fi access on a global scale, fundamentally changing how Wi-Fi services will be used and offered going forward,” explained Dan Rabinovitsj, chief operating officer at Ruckus Wireless.

“Several strong growth factors are feeding the rapid acceleration of the Wi-Fi market, and Hotspot 2.0 is clearly one of them,” added Richard Webb, research director for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics Research, now part of IHS.

“By simplifying and securing the client connection experience, while providing seamless roaming between disparate Wi-Fi networks, we expect Hotspot 2.0 will have a profoundly positive impact that will drive a new stage of Wi-Fi deployments,” said Webb.

Ruckus has modified a number of its ZoneFlex indoor and outdoor access points, including the 7372, T300 Series and R700 devices, as well as its SmartCell Gateway 200, to achieve certification on Release 2.

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