Meru Reveals Radio-Level Security

By Eric Griffith

January 17, 2006

The Security Services Module software scans, scrambles and jams without disrupting regular network services.

Wireless LAN security is a lot better than it used to be, but that doesn't stop vendors from trying to make it better. Meru Networks of Sunnyvale, California says upcoming software for its WLAN controllers provides a new layer of protection beyond encryption, firewalls and intrusion protection by going to the signal level.

"There's three areas of [WLAN] security: authentication/encryption to protect the good guys, authorization, and then intrusion management to keep bad guys out," says Joel Vincent, Meru's Director of Marketing. "Those almost all happen at the bit level." Because of that, Vincent says, there are security gaps.

Using the company's AirShield Technology, the new Security Services Module (SSM) software for the Meru line of controllers can do three things. First, it can micro-scan the area using access points and switches. The intelligence is in the company's AirTraffic Control technology, so if it sees a packet (which it inspects on the fly) that it doesn't have to deal with, it ignores it and uses that time to continue scanning the area.

Radio jamming is for mitigating rogue APs.  "With the SSM enabled... we make their transmissions invisible to anyone on the network by corrupting [the rogue's] packets," says Vincent. They appear as white noise on the network.

Finally, transmission scrambling takes advantage of the antennas Meru uses on its APs and switches. Only the intended sender and receiver of the packets will ever see them; all other clients on the network see white noise. This doesn't even require special software; it will work with any Wi-Fi client.

The new SSM won't be available until the second quarter of this year, and will sell for $2,500.



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