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PARC Automates WLAN Security, Interoperability

The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) - the folks that invented laser printing and the graphical user interface - said Tuesday they have developed technologies that simplify and automate wireless security and that provide interoperability among various networks.

The goal, PARC said in a statement, is to enable users to roam securely and seamlessly between networks of various types. The breakthroughs came in two separate projects, the organization said.

"These projects represent essential stepping stones - robust, usable security and simple interoperability - for operating in a world where computing is increasingly atomized, embedded and user-managed," Mark Bernstein, president and center director of PARC said in a statement. PARC, originally founded by Xerox, became an independent company in 2002.

The first project uses of the private key infrastructure (PKI) to automate security for users of wireless networks. Specifically, the technology enables use of a location-limited channel such as infrared to exchange of a key pair between a client, such as a laptop or handheld, and the network security infrastructure. The user can then request a digital certificate and, when the network administrator approves the certificate, PARC's software automatically configures the client device.

PARC claimed it ran a user study in which users set up 802.1x security in two steps that took less than two minutes. It claimed it otherwise required 90 minutes and 30 installation steps to install that level of security on client devices.

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