AirMagnet boosts WLAN software security

Wireless LAN maker AirMagnet has released an upgraded version of its enterprise platform that offers new security features, as well as performance monitoring and event analysis capabilities.

One of the highlights of AirMagnet's Enterprise 7.0 software is its support for new wireless sensors that can monitor and analyze the radio frequency (RF) spectrum for interference by non-Wi-Fi devices such as cordless phones and Bluetooth devices.

"Traditional sensors capture wireless packets out of the air and do a stateful analysis of those packets" to identify potential problems, said Wade Williamson, product manager at AirMagnet. "What's new here with our sensors is it gives you a regular Wi-Fi analysis -- plus it gives you an analysis of what's going on at Layer 1."

The changes are designed to help companies more quickly identify potential WLAN performance issues, he said.

AirMagnet's new product is among the first in the industry to combine Wi-Fi protocol analysis with spectral analysis, said Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass.

Though there's not a "huge need" yet for this capability in traditional enterprise settings, it can be very useful in certain environments, he said.

Smart City Networks is one company that expects to benefit from the upgrade. As a provider of conference and trade show networks, Smart City often has to deal with wireless environments that are rife with interference, said Ron Shaul, the company's director of technology development.

"Over the past couple of years, we've seen a fairly steady increase of non-Wi-Fi interference from cordless phones, microwaves and Bluetooth [devices]," Shaul said.

AirMagnet's new sensors can pinpoint and identify sources of interference more cost-efficiently than special-purpose spectral analyzers, said Shaul, whose company has been beta-testing Enterprise 7.0 for over a month.

Other enterprises such as hospitals and manufacturing floors could also benefit greatly from the features, he said.

In addition to incorporating a spectral analyzer, AirMagnet added location-based detection and alarm features that let companies identify rogue devices by location, Williamson said. That lets companies establish perimeters for indoor and outdoor locations and create unique alarms and location-based recommendations for security and performance problems, Williamson said.

Also new is an Alarm Correlation feature designed to help companies better analyze security and event information on their WLANs, Williamson said. With it, an administrator can more quickly identify specific devices or access points in a wireless network that are causing problems.

AirMagnet 7.0 is available as a free upgrade to existing customers and starts at US$8,995 for new users.

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