WiMAX Security Presents Opportunity: ABI Research

by CXOtoday Staff    Jan 08, 2007

The year 2007 will see a number of mobile WiMAX deployments. Contrary to many userd’ expectations, WiMAX does have a number of security vulnerabilities. The need to plug those gaps in its defenses creates attractive revenue opportunities for security solutions vendors, which are explored in a new ABI Research Brief.

“They say that if you don’t learn from the past, you are doomed to repeat it,” says vice president Stan Schatt. “Early Wi-Fi consumers enjoyed a false sense of security until there were some well-publicized hacking exploits. The WiMAX Forum has emphasized how much more secure WiMAX is than early Wi-Fi. As a result, there may be WiMAX customers who are similarly lulled into a false sense of security.” The flaws, says Schatt, should begin to show themselves once the first big WiMAX rollouts occur.

Gaps in WiMAX security fall into three categories: user terminals, intrusion detection, and connectivity service networks. User terminals will need encryption acceleration to handle AES processing demands. At the edge of WiMAX networks, access service networks offer the ideal place for vendors to add intrusion detection and protection software and hardware. Connectivity service networks, as part of carrier back offices, will require stateful firewall software or robust firewall appliances, as well as additional RADIUS servers to handle the extra load imposed by roaming clients on WiMAX authentication.

With the exception of a few large corporations such as Motorola, Nortel, and Alcatel, few WiMAX vendors have the internal expertise to fill all of these gaps. This leaves the field open for a number of smaller specialized developers to create and supply solutions. “To some extent, WiMAX security specialists will attempt to sell solutions directly to end- users,” says Schatt, “but the lesson learned from Wi-Fi is that these products are most attractive to customers when tightly integrated. So most WiMAX security solutions will be offered through partnerships with WiMAX equipment vendors.”

Schatt concludes, “Like the early prospectors in the California gold rush, WiMAX vendors may or may not strike it rich. But, like the merchants who sold miners their picks, shovels, and necessary supplies, the providers of WiMAX security tools companies such as Cavium Networks, AirTight Networks, and Redline Communications will almost certainly prosper.”