Sniffer adds PDAs, VoIP to products

Sniffer Technologies, a division of Network Associates Inc., announced a new product designed to sniff wireless networks using a PDA (personal digital assistant), as well as upgrades to a pair of its products Monday at the Networld+Interop show in Las Vegas.

For users who need to monitor and manage wireless networks that use the 802.11b standard, but want to perform this task from smaller, more portable devices, Sniffer introduced Sniffer Portable Wireless PDA. The new software runs on Compaq Computer Corp.'s iPaq Pocket PC device using Symbol Technologies Inc. Spectrum 802.11b cards, said Gretchen Hellman, manager of market intelligence for Sniffer, based in Santa Clara, California.

Sniffer already offers software for wireless network management, but customers had asked the company for a more portable, lower cost option that could run on a PDA, Hellman said. Sniffer Portable Wireless PDA will allow users to do some investigation and analysis of the results right on the PDA, but also supports synchronizing the data to a PC and importing into the existing Sniffer Wireless product if deeper analysis is needed, she said.

Sniffer Portable Wireless PDA will allow users to detect rogue access points, ensure that WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol) is being used and find unauthorized users on the wireless network, she said.

Currently, the product only runs on the iPaq using the Symbol wireless card, though Sniffer is considering supporting other hardware combinations, she said. Other future plans include expanding the range of protocols sniffed by the product to cover other 802.11 variants, she added.

Sniffer does not have any immediate plans to support the Palm OS, but is looking into it, Hellman said. The decision to go to the iPaq first because that is the platform most customers said they used for enterprise applications, she said.

Customer need also drove the development and announcement of the product itself, said Eric Hemmendinger, research director at the Aberdeen Group Inc.

"They (Sniffer) roll out new features, new capabilities, on a regular basis, largely in response to what their existing customers tell them (they need)" and customers are saying they need this, he said.

Even though wireless networks are not currently widely-deployed, the security concerns that are holding back that deployment could be eased somewhat by this product, he said.

"They can't make wireless better, but they can troubleshoot it," he said.

The announcement of Sniffer Portable Wireless PDA "tells the customers that the folks at Sniffer understand that wireless is a concern," he said.

Sniffer Portable Wireless PDA will be available worldwide in June at a price of US$3,995.

In two separate announcements, Sniffer also detailed upgrades to its Sniffer Distributed and Sniffer Investigator products, adding VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) features, support for RMON (Remote Monitoring) and enhanced reporting to both products.

Sniffer Distributed, the company's product for managing and inspecting distributed networks from a single location, will have new reporting features, including support for WAN (Wide Area Networks) and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) networks, as well as RMON support for Gigabit networks, the company said. The ability to monitor VoIP networks in a distributed manner is an optional upgrade. The new version of the software costs $11,900, with the VoIP upgrade running an additional $5,250, Sniffer said.

Sniffer Investigator, the company's small-to-medium size business product, adds the same set of features as Distributed. Investigator is designed for smaller deployments than Distributed. The upgraded product will cost $7,245 with the VoIP module priced at an additional $5,250, the company said.

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