Symbol Puts Up WLAN Defenses

Looking to move beyond its core base of retail users, Symbol Technologies is readying wireless LAN products designed to increase network security.

Looking to move beyond its core base of retail users, Symbol Technologies Inc. is readying wireless LAN products designed to increase network security.

In late September, the company will start shipping its Wireless Intrusion Protection System, which monitors the network for external attacks and rogue access points within the network. Data analysis is split between access point sensors and a central switch. The system monitors traffic patterns to pinpoint both devices and access points that dont belong on a network, correlating information from those access points that are acting as sensors. It includes the ability to terminate devices over the air, said officials at Symbol, in San Jose, Calif.

The company also is moving ahead with plans for access points that can act as rogue sensors and as data transmitters at the same time, with a separate radio dedicated to each function, officials said.

Also in the works are mesh-networking products and access points that support MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology. MIMO uses multiple antennas to run multiple data streams in the same radio channel. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, expects to ratify a MIMO standard, 802.11n, next year.

"In October and going forward, youll see a lot from us in terms of multiradio," said Chris McGugan, senior director of product management at Symbols wireless infrastructure division.

On the device side, Symbol is readying several handheld computers that will run the latest version of Microsoft Corp.s Windows Mobile OS, Version 5.0, officials said. Among these is the MC9090—an upgraded version of the MC9000, which is a ruggedized handheld computer. Due to reach the market next year, the MC9090 will have optional support for Bluetooth, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, and both GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) WANs, officials said.

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Analysts say that in addition to security, the company needs to consider scalability in its centralized switches to attract more enterprise customers.

"What they lack is a Layer 3 core controller for managing hundreds of access points in one location," said Gartner Inc. analyst Rachna Ahlawat in San Jose.

Symbols top-of-the-line WS5100 switch supports up to 48 thin access points, but "well support well over 48 next year," McGugan said. "Were completing testing, and Id rather not state a total. However, we will be in line with the needs of the larger enterprise for their deployment of voice and streaming media."

"The more you can support with a single switch, the better," said Don Berry, a wireless networking consultant who recently left a position as a wireless networking engineer at Microsoft. "On the Microsoft campus there were 3,000 access points on one campus. Aggregating 100 to 1 became really attractive then." But "nothing can trump security," Berry said. "You can make a lot of concessions for scalability if you have security, but, if you dont, it doesnt matter how scalable it is."

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