AirDefense Walks the WLAN Wire - Page 4

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2008-01-12 Print this article Print

Our customers have responded very well to the troubleshooting aspects of the product, and, in return, we've responded to the requests of our customer base. We introduced modules such as AirDefense Live RF to allow real-time coverage heat maps of all your facilities, and it provides wireless coverage analysis from an application layer perspective.

We are also going to release AirDefense Enterprise 7.3 very shortly, and one of the big features we've added is the spectrum analysis module. We quickly realized that enterprises would like to gain a better understanding of the radio frequency airspace, particularly when it comes to interference.

What does AirDefense anticipate for 802.11n in the enterprise? What can your solutions do currently, and how will you help your customers adopt and adapt to the new technology?

This year, you won't soon see enterprises ripping apart their 802.11a/b/g WLANs to replace them with 802.11n, but certainly you will start seeing RFPs [requests for proposals] and RFQs [requests for quotations] that specifically ask about 802.11n and the upgrade process. But when it comes to [802.11n's] multiple antenna configurations and realizing MIMO [multiple input, multiple output] benefits, everything-starting from site planning to coverage analysis to back-end switches-has to be looked at one more time, which is why enterprise adoption is not going to be as dramatic as infrastructure vendors would like it to be.

A lot of the current 802.11n draft APs [access points] that are out there today use more power than what is supported on the standard power over Ethernet, and a lot of switches that are out there today are not capable of supporting the massive throughputs and data rates that 802.11n promises. So you are talking about new switches and new power injectors-major wireless and wired upgrades that would be required to fully realize the promise of 802.11n.

Today, we are fully capable of detecting rogue APs that are based on prestandard or draft-compatible 802.11n solutions with our existing sensors. However, that is not the full picture. You don't just want to detect rogue devices-you also want to see what they are communicating, especially if the traffic is unencrypted. And for that you need 802.11n sensors.

From a security perspective, you are going to see more attacks emerge. If you look at the media access protocol that has been extended in 802.11n, there are a lot of extensions there. The more complicated a protocol is, the more ways that exist but haven't really been thought of to break it.

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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