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Cisco Accelerates Advanced Wireless Network Security for U.S. Federal Agencies


Cisco Unified Wireless Network Receives FIPS 140-2 Validation and Pursues Common Criteria Conformance for National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) WLAN Access Protection Profile

HERNDON, Va. - August 14, 2006 - Cisco Systems® today extended its leadership position in wireless local area network (WLAN) security by announcing that the Cisco® Unified Wireless LAN Controllers and Access Points have received National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 level 2 validation of its IEEE 802.11i WLAN security architecture.

Cisco has been working closely with the Department of Defense (DoD) in defining requirements to enable higher levels of security and interoperability in wireless solutions. By meeting these cryptographic security standards with FIPS validation, the Cisco Unified Wireless Network meets another critical security requirement mandated by the DoD policy for commercial WLAN deployments.

“With the new DoD secure wireless policy, we are on the threshold of increased interoperability through open standards,” said Colonel Rob Baker from the Department of the Navy’s Navy-Marine Corps Intranet program. “FIPS certification enables the deployment of wireless in a rigorous, secure configuration at many of our bases, posts and stations.”

Currently, Cisco is the only centralized WLAN solution listed in process with the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Common Criteria program for conformance to the U.S. government WLAN Access System Protection Profile for Basic Robustness - the final step in achieving total DoD Directive 8100.2 compliance. All new DoD acquisitions for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) WLAN systems must be evaluated against this protection profile. Cisco expects to achieve final Common Criteria validation in the first quarter of 2007.

“FIPS compliance eases agencies’ security concerns and will spur the adoption of wireless networks in the federal government,” said Zeus Kerravala, vice president of infrastructure and security research at Yankee Group. “Companies such as Cisco that are committed to developing and embracing open standards have the clear competitive advantage for delivering government-grade WLAN security solutions.”

Cisco notes that FIPS certification and compliance with DoD Directive 8100.2 wireless policy provides government customers the ability to use wireless more expansively, including deployment of advanced wireless services such as asset tracking, voice and security for guest networking. Prior to the DoD wireless policy, interoperability of highly secure WLAN deployments was not assured. This policy defines the interoperability required for true enterprise-wide highly secure WLAN deployments by mandating the use of IEEE 802.11i, the IEEE standard for implementing wireless security.

“Security is a primary concern with wireless networks, especially in the government market, which is why we include FIPS-validated code integrated into our baseline software release,” said Alan Cohen, senior director of mobility solutions at Cisco. “With the stringent FIPS-secure Cisco Unified Wireless Network, federal agencies can now deliver on their wireless mandates with confidence that they are achieving state-of-the-art security.”

In addition, the Cisco Unified Wireless Network is the only solution that meets the new DoD mandate for continuous Wireless Intrusion Detection (WIDS) with “location sensing” for tracking the physical location of thousands of wireless devices in real time. The Cisco WIDS solution with location tracking helps to protect both wired and wireless networks from potential security threats from rogue APs and unauthorized clients within the wireless environment.

“Prior to the new DoD secure wireless policy, customers were required to deploy nonstandard solutions for mission-critical wireless applications, severely limiting system interoperability and functionality,” said Rocky Cintron, president of Force 3. Force 3 is a Cisco Gold Certified Partner that specializes in voice and wireless network integration and operational support for the federal government. “Now, Cisco has achieved a significant milestone in delivering advanced wireless security that has been proven to meet very rigorous security requirements of the federal government.”

Securing wireless clients with Common Criteria validation is also a mandate of the new DoD policy. To address this, Cisco is announcing its SolutionsPlus partnership with 3eTI, a subsidiary of EFJ, Inc., the only WLAN client vendor currently listed in process for NIAP Common Criteria evaluation. The 3eTI client is also the only WLAN client solution that supports FIPS 802.11i security for Intel Centrino devices as well as other major client platforms. Together with Cisco SolutionsPlus partner 3eTI, Cisco is the only vendor that can deliver a comprehensive end-to-end wireless solution that meets all of the federal policy requirements for WLAN security.

“FIPS certification of the Cisco WLAN Controllers and Access Points demonstrates the high level of security and stability of Cisco wireless solutions in even the most demanding DoD environments,” said Bruce Klein, federal operations vice president for Cisco. “It also assures DoD customers that our solution meets standards designed to allow it to interoperate with their existing equipment. This helps enable customers to take advantage of the total cost of ownership and operational advantages of an integrated and highly secure wired and wireless infrastructure.”

More information about Cisco’s complete enterprise wireless solutions can be found at:
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