Companies looking to introduce the 802.1x security protocol may find the move more expensive than they thought, according to a newly published report by Forrester.
The analyst firm found that teething problems with the technology are causing companies to slow their implementation of the standard. Only 15 per cent of North American companies are building in 802.1x switches because of unexpected costs.
"The 802.1x authentication protocol is an essential component of Lan technology and ultimately will save enterprises money," said Forrester senior analyst Robert Whiteley.
"But early adopters of 802.1x for authentication have run into high capital costs, unexpected operational costs, and security risks that can translate into costs if not addressed initially.
"Enterprises should be aware of these pitfalls and use the latest versions of software, firmware and deployment tools to minimise costs."
The report found that companies will need to replace all network switches that are more than three years old as they are unlikely to support 802.1x. It suggested, however, that these costs can be partially mitigated by upgrading the entire network to Gigabit Ethernet, but this involves yet more cost.
Operating system support is also a problem, as although Windows XP provides some support for 802.1x, Forrester found only 17 per cent of companies running XP-only networks.
The analyst also warned that XP's support "is not robust enough for all enterprise environments" and recommends using third-party software instead at a cost of $25-$50 per user.
The report concluded that 802.1x is a security process with unexpected implementation costs, but is essential. Companies without 802.1x installed would suffer in the long term.
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