AirMagnet Boosts Wireless Network Security

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2005-07-10 Print this article Print

AirMagnet Enterprise 6.0 provides improved protection against unknown attacks and offers new reporting features and better integration with wireless hardware from Cisco.

AirMagnet this week will introduce an updated version of its wireless LAN security and management platform, which provides improved protection against unknown attacks, new reporting features and better integration with wireless hardware from Cisco Systems Inc.

Among the new features in AirMagnet Enterprise 6.0 is the ability to let Ciscos Aironet access points work as network scanners, provided that customers use the latest version of Ciscos WLSE (Wireless LAN Solution Engine).
The scanners can either supplement or replace AirMagnet sensors, sending traffic data to the AirMagnet software for analysis.

Cisco last year released APIs for WLSE to numerous third-party software companies. AirDefense Inc., which competes with AirMagnet Inc., announced integration with WLSE and Cisco access points in November.

On the surface, using access points as sensors seems cost-prohibitive. Ciscos Aironet 1130 and 1230 access points have list prices of $699 and $999, respectively. On top of that, AirMagnet is charging a licensing fee of $1,500 for every five Cisco access points used as scanners. Read more here about Cisco trying to clarify its enterprise wireless LAN strategy. AirMagnet sensors have a list price of $750 each with no licensing fee. But AirMagnet officials in Sunnyvale, Calif., said they have received many requests for the Cisco scanner option, especially among customers that have installed bases of Cisco gear. Large customers generally receive volume discounts.

"Everyones a Cisco customer," said Wade Williamson, a product manager at AirMagnet, whose customers include Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp.

Beyond the Cisco integration, AirMagnet Enterprise 6.0 incorporates new reporting features, providing the ability to document and print the data that the system collects. This includes reports that indicate compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Department of Defense Directive 8100.2. Until now, AirMagnet Reporter has been a stand-alone product.

"I really do like the integration of Reporter," said Ted Gutman, assistant director for computer services at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, in Setauket, N.Y. "Right now, it requires a separate SQL server. Since were a small operation, I dont currently have an extra server that I could use for a SQL server. Ive been using the limited report functionality built into Enterprise [5.1], which uses Microsoft Access."

Enterprise 6.0 also lets sensors block rogue access points and scan the network at the same time, so one threat cant sneak in while another is being blocked. In addition, the software includes tools for circumventing new "zero-day" attacks by looking for unusual clustering trends, making it easier to pinpoint an attack before it hits the wired network.

"Even if we havent seen an attack before, we can tell that something is going wrong" based on activity patterns, AirMagnets Williamson said.

Pricing for AirMagnet Enterprise 6.0 starts at $8,995, which includes the server software and four sensors. It is available now.

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