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GDS runs tests on GovWifi service



Prototype in use with predictions that authentication service should come into use in early 2017

Work on an automatic WiFi sign-in for government buildings has gathered pace, with tests running in a public beta phase and a forecast that it will be available early next year.

This follows the name change of the prototype developed as user.wifi into GovWifi, prompted by research that potential users thought the original name was a URL.

Nick Breeze and Sanjay Poyzer of the Government Digital Service (GDS) have outlined the progress in a blogpost that says the new service will provide cloud based authentication for government buildings, creating the appearance of one network covering all of the sites.

It launched the project earlier in the year, emphasising the use of the open standard RADIUS authentication protocol that is supported on almost all wireless access points.

Users may need to use a virtual private network within the buildings, and their devices are isolated from each other to prevent the horizontal spread of malware. Each user is issued with randomly generated unique credentials and encryption keys when they log into the WiFi and access the internet.

Extra protection

Breeze and Poyzer also say that there is an extra layer of protection in the network identifying itself in a way that cannot be spoofed.

GDS is funding the solution so there will be no cost for departments to pick it up. It has said that administrators of user devices in government departments can roll out a WiFi profile now to get users ready for the new service.

The organisation has also previously said it is working on a high security service for managed devices named device.wifi, which relies on public key infrastructure and requires departments that use it to supply authentication certificates to devices.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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