Devicescape takes on Wi-Fi guest access problem

Devicescape is extending its WLAN sign-on system to home networks.

A maker of software that simplifies getting onto public Wi-Fi hotspots is now tackling the complexity of using the network in your own home or at a friend's house.

Consumers have been warned not to leave their home wireless LANs (WLANs) open, and security mechanisms have become both stronger and in some cases easier to set up. But to let a visiting friend use the Internet, users typically have had to reconfigure the network or enter an SSID (Service Set Identifier) and a lengthy password. For consumers who have trouble setting up a network in the first place, this can be a high barrier.

Devicescape Software Inc. offers free beta-test software that can store user sign-on information for many public hotspots and is working to get it built into devices such as Wi-Fi cameras that lack a browser or keyboard. On Tuesday, it expanded that tool to include home WLANs, with a system called Wi-Fi Buddies. Consumers can sign up for Wi-Fi Buddies, have their SSID and password stored on the company's server, and invite their friends to download the Devicescape software and get sign-on credentials for their WLAN.

Once a friend gets those credentials from Devicescape, they can start using the home WLAN without signing in or even going past a splash screen, according to the company. The WLAN owner never gives the SSID and password to a user, so it's possible to lock people out later through Devicescape's Web site without changing the password. Wi-Fi Buddies can also be used with an open home network.

Devicescape isn't alone in trying to solve the problem. The Wi-Fi Alliance's WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) specification defines two methods of setting up WLANs without having to make up or enter an SSID or encryption password. Those techniques can also be used to get visitors onto the secure network, said Som Pal Choudhury, a product line manager at Netgear, which is adopting WPS for some products. However, WPS doesn't allow access to be granted and rescinded entirely online.

Cisco Systems's Linksys division, the leading seller of home WLAN gear, recommends users either enter the SSID and password on a visitor's PC or put the device's MAC (Media Access Control) address into a filtering list on the access point, said spokeswoman Karen Sohl. Linksys doesn't use WPS now but hopes to adopt a later version.

Initial WLAN setup is a typical headache for consumers, said Gartner Inc. analyst Ken Dulaney, but how to let friends onto the LAN seems to be a less common problem, he said.

"I think when friends come over, you have a beer," Dulaney said.

Small businesses could also use Wi-Fi Buddies to grant temporary access to their networks, Devicescape says, but the company doesn't guarantee the security of the passwords it stores.

Wi-Fi Buddies has been released for current Devicescape customers and will be publicly available at the company's Web site by Thursday. It runs on Microsoft Windows XP, Vista and Mobile versions 5 and 6. The company is also working on an Apple OS X version. One thing that isn't on the horizon is Devicescape for the iPhone. The company continues to approach Apple about this but has nothing to report, said Bill McIntosh, Devicescape's vice president of marketing.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?