IBM Tightens Up WLAN Security

The intrusion detection system detects a variety of attacks against wireless access points and wireless-enabled laptops.

NEW YORK—IBM on Wednesday announced a wireless LAN security solution that combines some new technology with a set of services from the companys consulting division.

The announcement signals an increased interest in the wireless security market from IBM, which has until now focused most of its security efforts on the PC and network segments. But the solution isnt a complete departure for IBM. The wireless intrusion detection system (IDS) utilizes the companys strength in access control and identity management for the wireless world, where such technologies have been all but ignored to this point.

IBM executives said the solution underscores their belief that wireless networks need not be inherently less secure than the wired infrastructure.

"I think they can be just as secure as wired networks. It takes some education and some better technology to do it," said Arvind Krishna, vice president of security products for the Tivoli division of IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y.

The main function of the new solution is to detect a variety of attacks—including man-in-the-middle attacks, denial-of-service, address spoofing and encryption breaches—against both wireless access points and wireless-enabled laptops and other client devices. The system utilizes a new sniffing technology from IBM Research running on Linux-based sensors to identify attacks and other types of misuse.


The IDS system can also identify rogue access points as well as access points that dont conform to the customers security policy. All of this information is monitored by analysts at an IBM facility, who generate reports, look for attack trends and help customers respond to attacks. The round-the-clock monitoring is a feature unique to the IBM solution, and one that has proven valuable in recent years in the traditional world of wired networks.

Another aspect of the solution, announced at an IBM security event here, is a service known as "Wi-Dog" that protects the IDS sensors against physical tampering.

IBMs solution is similar in function and scope to others already on the market, most notably products from Air Defense Inc., which also makes a WLAN intrusion detection system. However, unlike most of the other products, the IBM solution will be delivered strictly as a managed service from the companys Global Services consulting group.

The solution is available now.

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