NAI's Sniffer to support 802.11a

Network Associates's Sniffer Technologies division is reaching out to companies with high speed wireless networks, adding support of the 802.11a wireless standard to its Sniffer Wireless product, the company announced on Monday.

NAI's Sniffer Wireless is an application and security management product for companies with wireless devices. The product allows network administrators to monitor the configuration of wireless devices on their network to support vulnerabilities, monitor the radio frequencies used by wireless devices to troubleshoot conflicts and detect rogue wireless devices that have attached to a wireless LAN, according to NAI.

802.11a is a cousin to the 802.11b standard that is used by many wireless products designed for the homes and small offices.

802.11a is geared to businesses interested in wireless technology, but with bandwidth-hungry applications such as those displaying multimedia presentations. It provides much higher bandwidth connections to wireless clients, up to 54M bits per second in the 5GHz band as opposed to 11M bits per second in the 2.4GHz band for 802.11b.

However, higher bandwidth equates to a shorter range. 802.11a supports the 54M bits per second for clients at about 60 feet from an access point, whereas 802.11b can support 11M bits per second at up to 300 feet from a wireless access point.

NAI's announcement Monday signals the greater use of wireless technologies by businesses and the growing popularity of high speed solutions that use non-802.11b standards, according to Pete Lindstrom, research director at The Spire Group.

"The Sniffer products made their mark by understanding every packet that goes across the network. All they're doing is saying 'We're going to cover everything in the 802.11 realm,'" Lindstrom said.

In expanding Sniffer to support 802.11a networks, NAI is competing with a host of other companies to grab a piece of the wireless security market, according to Lindstrom.

Companies such as AirDefense Inc., Internet Security Systems Inc. (ISS) and all offer competing security products for sniffing out vulnerabilities in wireless networks and securing wireless access points that can be used by attackers to gain direct access to corporate networks behind the firewall.

"These are things that are scary," said Lindstrom about the growing popularity of wireless technology on corporate networks. "This stuff is growing like weeds and its not top-down technology. It's like file servers and network operating systems in the early 1980s. Your techie guy goes out and buys this stuff and all of a sudden you've got it going on. " Sniffer Wireless with support of 802.11a is available immediately, according to NAI.

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