Combined Wireless Standard (Wi-Fi, Phone) Could Be Coming

Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but some large companies, especially those who do business with the US government, prohibit or limit the use of wireless technology for business use because the technology is simply not secure enough. The same can be said for cell phones too; employees are often reminded that sensitive information should not be discussed on cell phones because they are just too easy to eavesdrop on. A proposed standard could change that. According to a C|NET report, two companies are working to combine the security standards for Wi-Fi and cell phones into a standard that other mobile equipment makers can use. From the article, titled Standard roams the Wi-Fi, cellular range :

Gemplus announced Thursday that it is working with Transat Technologies on including Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) technology in its smart cards, making it one of the first companies to develop the standard for devices that will roam between Wi-Fi and cell phone networks. Smart cards, found behind the batteries of cell phones, store a subscriberis account and billing information.

"For now, EAP is a very small part of the market," Transat CEO John Baker said. "But weire already seeing a lot of businesses show interest in EAP. So this is the future way to go."

Luxembourg-based Gemplus, which sold 100 million thumbnail-size smart cards to cell phone makers last year, already packs its smart cards with Wi-Fi Protected Access ( WPA ), a security standard expected to become part of Wi-Fi networks--wireless networks with a radius of around 300 feet--in coffee shops and other commercial areas. EAP is provides much stronger security protection than WPA, via better encryption and one-time passwords, for example.

EAP technology will likely be used mostly in offices or other professional environments that rely more heavily on secured networks, Philippe Martineau, a Gemplus vice president, said.

There are problems, however; a protocol will need to be established to allow for roaming between networks using the news standards, according to the article. Stop by C|NET to read to full article.