AirMagnet Suite Sets Standard for WLAN Analysis

 
 
By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2003-12-08 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

No matter what security and management capabilities are included with WLAN gear or gateway protection devices, savvy administrators know they need the right tools for troubleshooting.

No matter what security and management capabilities are included with wireless LAN gear or gateway protection devices, savvy administrators know they need the right tools for troubleshooting. AirMagnet Inc.continues to dispense best-of-breed wireless analysis with its latest release, the AirMagnet Mobile 3.0 suite, which shipped in late October. eWEEK Labs tested Laptop Trio, which adds trimode support for 802.11 (802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g). Laptop Trio costs $3,500 for a single-user license.

We tested Laptop Trio using an AirMagnet NL-5354CB trimode adapter, sold separately for $150. Although we much prefer the simple effectiveness and mobility of the AirMagnet Handheld, trimode support is available only on laptop computers. The laptops larger screen conferred access to valuable real-time graphs and a wealth of information right at our fingertips.

Laptop Trio offers a number of 802.11g-related improvements, such as the ability to alert administrators when access points log lower-than-expected performance because they are thrashing between 802.11b and 802.11g. We also liked Laptop Trios ability to identify components that are pre-802.11g in their specifications.

AirMagnet continues to focus its resources on decodes and analysis of the first three layers of the network stack, correctly reasoning that most wireless problems arise within these layers. Laptop Trio therefore provides a range of tools for helping administrators identify overcrowded or dead spots in their wireless coverage. These tools identify radio channel usage and throughput, signal strength, channel bleed-over, multipath signals, and radio noise.

Laptop Trio supports numerous alarms beyond simple rogue access point detection. It helped us weed out access points that were broadcasting their network names and had disabled encryption (see screen), and it provided useful breakdowns of what these vulnerabilities implied.

When using advanced security protocols such as Wireless Application Protocol or 802.1x on the wireless network, it is nearly impossible to decode application-layer traffic. However, for unencrypted traffic, Laptop Trio can export captures to Sniffer or Ethereal formats for further analysis.

For additional information about the AirMagnet Mobile suite, check out www.airmagnet.com.
 
 
 
 
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.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at agarcia@eweek.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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