College campus

With eduroam, university users get secure WiFi access to the cloud

The eduroam wireless Internet service, now widely used in Europe, is being expanded in the United States by Internet2 and the University of Tennessee to enable a trusted roaming environment for faculty and students on U.S. campuses using a single set of digital credentials.

Eduroam a shortening of "education roaming" is a standards-based system using 802.1x WiFi, Secure Sockets Layer security and Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) for authentication. Internet2 will provide a bridge service for authenticating digital certificates so users can get network access at any eduroam location through credentials at the home institution.

Internet2 is a member-owned organization providing advanced networking services to educational and research institutions. It announced Oct. 2 at its fall membership meeting in Philadelphia that eduroam would be offered as a free member service through its NET+ Services program. There are 220 university and research lab members of Internet2, and other institutions will be able to subscribe to the service for a fee. Seed funding is being provided through a National Science Foundation grant.

The service originated in Europe, where there are about 2,000 universities using it, said Jack Seuss, CIO of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. But it has had only a small presence in the United States. Its expansion will enable anyone with credentials from a member university to get roaming access at any other member campus.

Any WiFi-enabled computer, smart phone or other device will pick up the service. Credentials will be passed through the Internet2 bridge to the home university for authentication. This means that credentials not be exposed at the remote campus and the visitor will not have to be given guest credentials for local Internet access.

Security is provided through the WPA2 Enterprise standard.

Seuss said he would like to see the service expanded to other institutions, such as elementary and high school systems, public libraries and other community organizations to provide a trusted roaming environment for students at all levels.

"That’s the exciting piece of this," he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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