Sniffer Gains 802.11a Support

NAI's Sniffer Wireless protocol analyzer can now troubleshoot for both both 802.11b and 802.11a networks.

Network Associates Inc.s Sniffer division is adding support for high-speed wireless LAN networks.

Starting this week, the companys Sniffer Wireless protocol analyzer will be able to troubleshoot for both 802.11b and 802.11a networks.

Previously the Sniffer line of wireless security management products supported only 802.11b networks, which offer data transfer rates of up to 11M bps. 802.11a offers rates of up to 54M bps. Corporate customers have indicated plans to mix and match the networks and had been asking for security products that support both, officials said.

"Its for rogue mobile unit detection," said Rich Van de Groenekan, senior product manager at Network Associates in Santa Clara, Calif. "It gathers a list of all the wireless devices, whether theyre access units or mobile devices, and labels them as such."

Beyond finding access points that blatantly dont belong in a network, Sniffer Wireless also detects roaming configurations that are set up wrong or access points that are too overloaded, officials said.

Customers said that innocent mistakes are often more of an issue than deliberate rogues.

"The bigger things are access points that are not configured appropriately or inappropriately engineered wireless networks," said Bob Flack, corporate systems engineer for Avaya Inc., in Basking Ridge, N.J., which has set up wireless LANs for several Fortune 500 companies. "[Sniffer Wireless] lets us do instant analysis for our enterprise customers and fix their existing networks."

Network Associates also has plans to support 802.11g, another wireless LAN protocol, which supports high-speed data rates in the same frequency range as 802.11b. 802.11a runs in a separate frequency band, which renders it not backward compatible with 802.11b. Flack said Avaya customers have been asking about 802.11g, but the protocol has yet to be ratified by the IEEE and neither company plans to support it before next spring.

Sniffer Wireless for 802.11a will cost $9,995, the same as the current 802.11b product.