public wifi

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) OpenRoaming service, which enables Wi-Fi users to move easily between public access points, will be protected by Kyrio’s enterprise-level security, according to the WBA.

Kyrio is a subsidiary of CableLabs, the cable industry research and development consortium. The company will be an Issuing Intermediate Certificate Authority (ICA). In this role, Kyrio will provide agent and registration authority services to WBA operators, hubs and identify providers.

Cisco and Google also are ICAs. Certificate Authorities operate under the WBA Public Key Infrastructure Certificate Policy that ensures trust between OpenRoaming federation members, the WBA said in a press release.

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The WBA says that Kyrio also will enable management and attribution of the WBA Unique Organization Identifiers that are key to partner identification on the OpenRoaming system. That information is centralized on a WBA global database.

Wi-Fi security always has been an issue, particularly in public scenarios in which the identity of the provider and the level of security it maintains often are fuzzy. For instance, a common malicious exploit is man-in-the-middle attacks in which a phony website made to look legitimate intercepts data between end users and the network in an effort to steal passwords, credit card numbers and other valuable data.

“The goal of WBA OpenRoaming has always been to provide users with a seamless and automatic public Wi-Fi experience, while at the same time providing unique business opportunities for vendors, operators and retailers. For that to work, businesses and consumers need to have complete confidence in the security of public networks, and our partnership with Kyrio offers this peace of mind and more,” WBA CEO Tiago Rodrigues said in the WBA OpenRoaming press release. “As of now, individuals will be able to access public or guest Wi-Fi in a frictionless, barrier-free way with complete confidence in the security and integrity of the network they’re using. We’re delighted to welcome Kyrio into the OpenRoaming family.”

The importance of security is certain to grow as Wi-Fi 6 begins deployment. Last month, the WBA said that it concluded five Wi-Fi 6 trials and is ready for carrier development. In one of those trials, Boingo, Cisco and Samsung demonstrated Wi-Fi 6 at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA. Boingo subsequently moved its Wi-Fi 6 program from the trial to commercial operation stage and announced an airport-wide deployment at São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport in Brazil.

Things seem to be moving quickly in the Wi-Fi 6 world. Last month, the FCC voted to allow unlicensed use of 45 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band. The WBA said that the move is expected to enable wider channels that will enable Wi-Fi 6 to offer gigabit connectivity with lower latency, improved coverage and better power efficiency.

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