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.