AirDefense Upgrade Covers 802.11a/b/g

By Eric Griffith

July 22, 2003

The AirDefense security platform is being upgraded to include all flavors of Wi-Fi, as well as adding mapping functions and policy enforcement.

AirDefense of Alpharetta, Georgia, this week announced a new version of its AirDefense wireless LAN security and monitoring system. Version 3.5 adds monitoring of 802.11a as well as 11g/b, plus mapping functions and policy enforcement, with the usual interface enhancements one expects in any upgrade.

AirDefense is a system consisting of remote sensors placed around a location, which do 24 hour a day/7 day a week monitoring of the air waves for WLAN transmissions. The information gathered is forwarded back to a network appliance, which can be accessed by any user with the right privileges and a secure browser.

The version 3.5 system will add dual-radios to the sensors -- 5GHz radio frequency to monitor 802.11a traffic, and a 2.4GHz receiver to check 802.11g/b signals. These are brand new sensors -- users of the current AirDefense sensors will have to upgrade their hardware to get the 11a detection.

However, Brian Moran, spokesperson for AirDefense, says the company is working on deals for simple returns of older sensors for the new. Brand new, a single AirDefense sensor cost's $495.

Also new in 3.5, specifically in the RogueWatch module, is network mapping for a graphical look at placement of access points and clients on the WLAN. Moran says this is not location based -- it doesn't track movement -- but calls it a "quick representation... on the graphic you'll see signals strength and connection rates."

The company says it doesn't want its products to become a management platform, but felt the need to add some enhanced policy enforcement in this version. The AirDefense appliance can compare the configuration of an SNMP-based access point to the policy it should have -- say the access point is on channel 1 but policy requires channel 6, or the access point is broadcasting the SSID when it should not -- and AirDefense can make the change or shut down the access point as needed. Moran says the platform can monitor about 10 major network attributes.

This week the company also announced that the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) -- the part of the Department of Defense that runs grocery stores on military bases throughout the United States and Europe -- has bought into AirDefense as its monitoring solution of choice. The DeCA has installed sensors in close to 300 locations, which are monitored by only three AirDefense server appliances. The DeCA uses 802.11b to connect rugged devices used for tracking inventory. The DeCA is by far AirDefense's largest customer to date.

AirDefense earlier this month unveiled an entry-level security solution, called AirDefense Guard 1120. For $9,995 a small business can get the server appliance and four remote sensors.

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