OpenSEA Alliance Calls for Participation in Testing Open Source 802.1X Client

The OpenSEA Alliance, of which JANET(UK) is a member, called for participation in testing an open source 802.1X client known as Xsupplicant.

Building on existing support for Linux and Macintosh OS X, Xsupplicant has been extended to include Windows support and an easy to use GUI, both capabilities considered mandatory to deploy any 802.1X client in demanding, cross-platform 802.1X applications.

Several organisations are already doing limited testing of the Xsupplicant; their early involvement in the project will help ensure that their specific network environment and use scenarios are addressed.

"As a member of the OpenSEA Alliance, JANET(UK) is committed to delivering a robust, appropriate, cost effective solution," states Louis Searchwell, technical specialist for JANET(UK).

"JANET(UK)'s contribution to the supplicant programme is to provide a test bed of eight early adopter organisations (representing thousands of users) for the test.

These organisations will report on their experiences, outline future requirements and develop documentation.

Bristol University, one of the potential test sites, is 'keen to take part in the early tests to ensure that the OpenSEA Alliance Xsupplicant is bug free and provides an excellent user experience.'"

802.1X, an IEEE standard now available on virtually all current LAN infrastructures, is an approach to security that enforces access-control at the edge of the network before a client is permitted to connect.

Using 802.1X, endpoints are dynamically provisioned with rights to specific network segments based on identity or other client parameters.

While modern commercial operating systems support 802.1X natively, they all lack a cross-platform approach, consistent operation, and unified management.

Commercial third-party 802.1X clients have improved this situation, but at a per-seat cost that some organisations have been reluctant to shoulder.

As a result 802.1X, despite the substantial security improvements it provides, has not yet reached the level of adoption or interoperability originally anticipated.

"After months of intensive development and testing, we must now engage others to ensure Xsupplicant's robust interoperability and rock-solid operation in any 802.1X-compliant network," commented Chris Hessing, chair of the Open1X Project Management Committee responsible for directing the development of Xsupplicant and member of technical staff at Identity Engines, Inc. "Engaging more 802.1X adopters, equipment vendors, and security experts means we can more quickly validate that the release is ready for deployment in education, enterprise, and government environments."

"By introducing an open-source reference implementation, the OpenSEA Alliance has improved interoperability and will expand 802.1X deployment across the board-whether Xsupplicant or another client is used on the endpoint," said Paul Sangster, distinguished engineer at Symantec Corporation and executive director of OpenSEA. "Our objective is to do for 802.1X what Firefox did for web browsing and OpenSSL did for secure network communications."

Xsupplicant is licensed under the BSD and GPL licenses, while the UI is released under GPL.

The just-released version runs under Windows XP SP2.

Support for additional operating systems is planned for the near future pending the successful completion of this phase of testing.