Securing City Clouds

WiFi Planet says when the Department of Defense pulled the plug on allowing Wi-Fi laptops in government offices, a trio of software and hardware vendors created a STORM: Secure, Tough, Online/Offline, Reliable Mobile.

However, it was soon discovered such control was not easy with Wi-Fi becoming integrated into new laptops using Intel’s mobile Centrino chipset. Centrino employees could not unplug a USB connection or remove a PC Card to kill the link. Wi-Fi is built-in.

In order for commercial wireless gadgets to return to active duty in the DoD, they had to meet several requirements, which mesh with the goals of STORM:

  • Classified and unclassified documents must be encrypted before they can move between a Wi-Fi laptop or PDA and the government computer network.
  • The Pentagon needs laptops to shut off their wireless networks when connected to the DoD’s wired network. Being able to pass sensitive data from the secure government computer network to the wireless airwaves poses a dramatic security problem, according to the government.
  • Finally, DoD directive 8100.2 seeks to prevent wireless devices from being used as a conduit that introduces new security flaws. Any commercial wireless devices must also use anti-virus software.

STORM is “a private sector response to a public sector concern,” explains Kip Meacham, spokesperson for Orem, Utah-based Senforce Technologies, a member of the venture.

“Senforce security technology gives the added value and confidence to agencies seeking Wireless Directive DoD 8100.2 compliance for mobile PCs,” said Rance Poehler, president of Panasonic Computer Solutions Company and another member of the STORM alliance. Senforce’s Enterprise Mobile Security Manager (EMSM) software is embedded in Panasonic’s magnesium-encased Toughbook laptop computer. It disables the imbedded Wi-Fi features and controls wireless usage policies.

Another organization hot on the trail of secure networking is RAINS (Regional Alliances for Infra-structure and Network Security), the consortium of companies has won endorsements from state and city governments, and major companies such as Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard and ESRI.

The Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID), run by Northern Command, the wing of the U.S. military that is charged with defending the United States from land, air and sea attack, is “the Olympics of interoperability,” says Charles Jennings, whose RAINS-affiliated company also has a contract for JWID.

RAINS-Net, a secure emergency notification system, allows first responders to watch current police and emergency dispatch operations from a terminal. Notification messages can also be forwarded to wireless devices. But the messages can’t be forwarded to unauthorized eyeballs. Portland has a large cluster of companies developing security applications and devices.

RAINS-Net is a partnership of 60 IT vendors and more than 300 public and private organizations. The system provides automated alerts from the Portland 911 center to schools, hospitals and downtown corporate building managers.

RAINs can use laptops or Pocket PCs. While Microsoft Pocket PCs are the most popular,and Sony PDA owners without embedded Wi-Fi can also get instant wireless access, the new Sharp Zaurus SL-6000L PDA may be the most flexible. It includes built-in WiFi, a VGA display, loads of memory and Secure Digital and CompactFlash slots for memory expansion. It may make an attractive alternative to Palm and Pocket PC handhelds because it can run WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager software which allows mobile employees to securely roam with high speed access to information across multiple networks without interrupting Web connections or losing an existing session.

Remote workers can access Web applications like PIM and e-mail and also retrieve information from IBM’s DB2 database. The Sharp Zaurus also supports IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Multimodal Environment for Embedix, which allows end users to run multimodal applications.

The city-wide CAP-WIN network in Washington DC, built with IBM’s assistance, incorporates Jabber instant messaging and Wi-Fi.

Each of the clients connects wirelessly to the Jabber XCP server, making them technically interoperable with other IM and presence networks. Mobile users will ultimately have access to a wide range of real-time enterprise messaging applications across an extensive spectrum of devices and networks. Each wireless client initially offers text-based IM and presence management features, while the RIM client also offers group chat functionality, otherwise known as text conferencing.

Oregon Live and the Portland Business Journal have related stories on InnoTech 2004, going on now in Portland.

Barrett Resigns from Qwest Board

Qwest Communications announced the resignation of Craig R. Barrett as a director of the company, effective today. Barrett, the chief executive officer of Intel Corporation, had been a director of Qwest and its predecessor, U S WEST, Inc., since 1998.

Barrett became Intel Corporation’s fourth president in May of 1997, and chief executive officer in 1998. He was elected to Intel’s Board of Directors in 1992. He began his tenure at Intel as a Technology Development manager in 1974. Prior to joining Intel, he was an Associate Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Mr. Barrett said, “For personal reasons I find it necessary to leave the Qwest Board, but I am very comfortable with the current strategy and leadership of Dick Notebaert. Dick and his management team have done a strong job helping Qwest recover from the depths of the telecom recession.”

Dick Notebaert, Qwest chairman and CEO, said, “I want to thank Craig for his service on the Qwest Board. His efforts and insights have assisted us greatly in achieving our goals.”

Effective tomorrow, Charles L. Biggs, retired senior partner in Deloitte Consulting, and K. Dane Brooksher, chairman and chief executive officer of ProLogis, join Qwest’s board. Biggs and Brooksher will serve on the board’s audit committee.

RF-ID Live!

Deploying RFID technology successfully is the focus of RFID Journal Live!, March 29-31, at the Chicago Hilton Conference in Chicago, has a packed agenda. With large organizations such as Wal-Mart, Tesco and the U.S. Department of Defense now committed to using RFID technology, the focus is shifting from pilots to deployments.

The conference, sponsored by RFID Journal included the latest tracking and monitoring gadgets.

Among the announcements; Canadian authorities adopted Digital Angel’s RFID tracking technology, Savi Technology updated SmartChain, a real-time supply chain event engine, Oracle announced the next version of Oracle Warehouse Management would be RFID-ready, chipless RFID transponders made of nano-resonant fibers that could be invisibly integrated into packaging and labels, Printronix’s First-To-Market RFID Smart Label Printing, and lots more.

The upcoming, second annual RFID World, April 21-22, in Denver, Colorado, will feature eight breakout tracks over two days, and more than 30 educational sessions with keynotes from Texas Instruments and Microsoft.

Senator Patrick Leahy warns of the potential risks RFID tagging may pose to privacy and civil liberties. Thus far there are no federal bills or laws related to RFID privacy concerns.

Dailywireless has more on RFID including Mad Cow RF-ID, Handheld RF-ID Readers, Airport RF-ID, and RF-ID Tracking from Space?.

Giant’s Stadium Hotspot

“We’ve created one of the largest, if not the largest, hot spot in the world,” says Larry Baer, San Francisco Giants’ executive vice president and chief operating officer. The Giants claim SBC Park is “the first stadium with wireless Internet access”, although many others claim that distinction.

Starting April 12 with its home opener, Giants fans will be able to access statistics, fill in an electronic scorecard and access the Internet on PDAs, laptops and tablet PCs free of charge for the entire 2004 season.

SBC’s FreedomLink wi-fi service is operating the system in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard and Intel Corp. Kosmo Studios of Orlando, Fla., is providing the sign-on page, dubbed “Giants Dugout” that will provide such services as electronic games, real-time game statistics, scores and other sports news.

Hewlett-Packard will be providing computers in all 68 Giants suites that will be wi-fi compatible.

SBC expects about 1,000 or so fans to take advantage of the service initially. There will be 121 access points located around the ballpark with the capability to handle about 15-20 users each, says John Winborn, director of the Giants information systems.

No decision has been made as to whether there will be free Wi-Fi access next year, said SBC spokesman Fletcher Cook. One of the reasons it’s being offered for the upcoming season is to let people experience Wi-Fi technology outside of a home or office environment, he said.

Other wireless stadiums include

Related stories in Daily Wireless include: Unwiring 6 Stadiums in 6 Weeks, Morphing Sports to Games – Live, Stadium Objects to Free Wi-Fi, Golf Unwired, Webcasting Wimbledon, Tour de Multi-Media, Video Blogging, Indy 500 Network, Broadcast Sports Video, Tracking Runners in Real-time, Superbowl XXXVII , and Wireless Parks.

VoIP on Windows CE

Microsoft said Wednesday that 22 major manufacturers, including NEC and LG Electronics, intend to create Internet phones with the newest version of Windows CE, a stripped-down version of the Windows operating system intended for handheld devices and set-top boxes.

The new CE software, version 5, contains much improved technology for making phone calls on the Net with voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), according to Microsoft. The first wave of phones from the equipment makers is coming over the next three months, Microsoft Product Manager Balz Wyss said.

By focusing on VoIP phones, Microsoft has begun competing with technology heavyweight Cisco System, which makes most of the VoIP phones used in businesses and homes. At the Spring 2004 Voice on the Net Conference & Expo Wyss said he believes the new CE software could be used to spread VoIP technology into devices that aren’t necessarily thought of as phones, but still use Windows CE software.

“Any device connected to the Internet can be (broadband phone) enabled,” he said.

Vonage, which has 130,000 subscribers, plans to create a “soft phone” that can be added to any Windows CE device. Soft phones are computer programs that turn a device equipped with a speaker and a microphone into an Internet phone.