- Evolving standards to stimulate expansion of wireless LAN security solution markets
17 April 2003 London -- Frequently changing standards in the world WLAN industry are prompting manufacturers to create enhanced security solutions. The vulnerability of the wired equivalent privacy protocol, the current security standard, has caused companies to rethink their security strategies, encouraging expansion of the WLAN security solutions market.
The lack of a credible solution to thwart wireless hacking is creating opportunities for vendors that can come up with their own standards for the security technology market. The profusion of protocols is already creating a problem of interoperability between similar products of different vendors.
However, the introduction of Wi-Fi protected access (WPA) protocol, based on the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineersï¿½ 802.11i standard that is due out at the end of the year, is expected to resolve the issue of interoperability by testing all products for WPA compatibility.
These standards are likely to not only provide enterprise-grade security for WLAN networks, but also reduce the instances of enterprises seeking third-party security solutions.
According to a new study by international market consultancy Frost & Sullivan (wireless.frost.com), emerging WLAN security standards will drive manufactures to develop new and enhanced equipment, triggering exceptional growth. The total WLAN market, which was valued at USD41.1m in 2002, is projected to soar to USD278.7m by 2009.
"Although WLAN technology has been available for years, it was not until the IEEE released the 802.11b specification that the equipment moved out of its historic niches of warehousing, retail, and logistics. WLAN deployments are now occurring in almost every market segment including the traditional logistics applications, healthcare, and legal companies," said Wai Sing Lee, Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
Some enterprises and organisations are mandated to secure and protect their data. For instance, businesses in the US financial, healthcare, and government sectors must abide the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and Federal Information Processing Standards, respectively. As standards change, these various acts are expected to be updated simultaneously.
However, the numerous restrictions imposed by various governments on WLAN deployments has reined in the European market, which is expected to grow steadily but not as spectacularly as the North American or Asia Pacific markets. Nevertheless, if vendors focus on niche markets and leverage their product and service strengths, geography should not be a cause of concern in their marketing plans.
"Due to the glut of standards, end-users will have misgivings regarding the interoperability, upgradeability, and compatibility between different protocols and specifications, since they will not want to adopt a solution that has reached a technological dead end. They can only counter this by adopting a solution that is recommended by their network solutions provider, slowing down deployments until strong industry-wide solutions are available, or discontinuing WLAN deployments altogether," said Lee.
"The industry needs to find a way to balance end-user education with continued technological progress to sustain or increase enterprise WLAN adoptions."
Smaller WLAN security technology developers are capable of introducing several effective solutions to the market. However, they face a stiff challenge in becoming visible competitors since they have to duel against established participants.
To squeeze an advantage from this uneven playing field, they will have to provide incentives besides enhanced solutions since the advent of the new standards presages a considerable strengthening of security levels. WLAN security solutions should also be capable of providing value-added services such as capability to handle policy management, delineate classes of service, and assist clients execute their network policies.
Collaborating with recognised competitors provides another way to gain a toehold in the market. It is expected to facilitate entry into new markets, enable sharing of marketing costs, help retain and efficiently utilise limited resources as well as providing real-time service. It also enables small businesses to obtain access to technology that they do not currently have or intend to develop on their own. These supplementary services will also help companies differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Given the current uncertain economic conditions, a complete overhaul of networks seems unlikely. Enterprise network solutions providers such as Cisco and Symbol already have proprietary WLAN security solutions embedded in their systems. These are expected to provide superior value with regard to the total cost of ownership since no additional appliances or parts need to be installed.
Security vendors have been disseminating educational material to dispel end-user skepticism about WLAN security. Although solutions that conform with WLAN security standards are expected to dominate the market, additional security measures that are simply beyond the ability or scope of those standards, will always be needed. The WLAN technology market is anticipated to continue to grow impressively, creating a correspondingly vast market for security solutions.
The "A446" report is priced EUR4,890.