Cranite Systems, a 3-year-old start-up based in San Jose, Calif., said its WirelessWall Software Suite, a firewall for wireless networks, had earned the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 certification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The certification, granted March 21, makes Cranite eligible to sell its wares to the U.S. government. Computer giant Hewlett-Packard plans to resell Cranite's software to government agencies.
"It's a requirement--if you want to sell wireless security products to the government you need FIPS," said Max Mancini, Cranite's vice president of engineering. "The NIST certification says we're using the right cryptography algorithms and protecting and generating our keys correctly. And even from a nongovernment-customer perspective, this is a stamp of approval that says Cranite has done what they're claiming."
The NIST approval is purely technical. Separate export licenses issued to the company by the U.S. Department of State certify that the products meet the nation's strict cryptography export laws.
Cranite, which raised $12 million in September from investors including BV Capital and Diamondhead Ventures, is hardly alone in offering security solutions for wireless networks. Competitors include Fortress Technologies, Vernier Networks and Blue Socket.
Mancini said Cranite and its competition are filling a pressing need as wireless networks proliferate.
"A lot of companies are trying to approach wireless security because there is such a significant concern," Mancini said. "The native security that's included in Wi-Fi does not protect the network. It can be cracked by tools widely and easily available on the Internet. And trying to secure wireless networks with technology that was designed for wired networks is a bad idea."
Hewlett-Packard anticipated a lasting role as a Cranite reseller.
"We look forward to a long-term strategic relationship with Cranite," Bruce Klein, vice president of HP Federal, said in a statement.