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3Com Tightens Wireless Security With WIPS

3Com already offers a strong wired IPS offering with its TippingPoint
product, and now has an offering for its wireless business, too. Their new
WIPS (wireless intrusion protection system) product
offers the standard fare
of rogue AP and client detection, accidental association prevention, and
monitors, identifies, and if appropriate, mitigates wireless attacks.

Both the enterprise and SMB products, namely AirProtect Enterprise and
AirProtect Sentry, are OEMed from AirTight Networks. According to Jeff
Schwartz, product manager for Enterprise Wireless Solutions at 3Com, all
vendors were looked at last year, but they considered AirTight the "best in
the industry". But there are likely some other not-so-obvious factors that
likely contributed to that selection. Siemens Networks has a formal
arrangement with 3Com that includes, among other things, to resell 3Com's
wired networking gear. Siemens Networks has its own wireless line, HiPath
Wireless, and also OEMs AirTight's WIDPS gear. To complicate matters, the
HiPath Wireless products also has some level of integration with 3Com's
TippingPoint IPS. According to 3Com representatives, AirTight and
TippingPoint personnel have been collaborating before this 3Com WIPS
announcement. 3Com also has wireless gear targeted for the SMB market,
including a 'unified' switch that includes code from yet another vendor,
NextHop. Not surprisingly, AirTight Networks also has a relationship with

A significant paradox in all of this is that even though 3Com OEMs their
enterprise wireless gear from Trapeze Networks and Trapeze has a tight
relationship with another WIDPS vendor, AirDefense, 3Com chose AirTight
anyways. There has been some speculation around the status of 3Com's
relationship with Trapeze, but company representatives on both sides have
stated that it remains in good condition.

Vendor relationships aside, 3Com will be integrating the IPS product into
their own 3Com Enterprise Management Suite. It will provide monitoring but
configuration will require using the AirTight console. A future release
will allow an access point to switch to a sensor and back again, much like
what AirDefense can do with Trapeze's APs and AirMagnet with Aruba's and
Cisco's APs. Also coming in a few weeks is a planning tool, also OEMed from
AirTight. In comparison to Trapeze's RingMaster product, the planning
product can also position sensors in addition to access points on a map.

With all the OEMing going on, the obvious question put to 3Com is why
partner if one can build? 3Com now owns 100% of H3C, previously a joint
venture with Huwaei Technologies, and employs 2700 people. Director of
Public Relations, Kevin Flanagan, chose his words carefully, explaining that
when 3Com can achieve market satisfaction via partners, they will do so, but
when that's not available, they will build it themselves. 3Com is in a
unique position with its wired networking business bring wireless and wired
networking together, and it's already doing that via NextHop's software in
its SMB products. If executed properly, 3Com could remain in the top 5 of
wired and wireless networking, as long as Motorola remains weak without
wired networking gear and Nortel delays with its own wireless plans.