AirMagnet recently announced the latest revision of its distributed overlay WLAN monitoring system, Enterprise 8.0. The main enhancements in this release center around 802.11n rogue detection, spectrum analysis integration, additional attack signatures and a refresh of the user interface. This update is essentially aimed at matching the feature set of AirMagnet's Laptop Analyzer 7.5 released this past summer.
802.11n Draft 2.0 devices have been available for some time now, and it's imperative that WLAN security monitors be capable of detecting their existence. The 802.11n standard introduces wider channels (40MHz) and data rates that existing 802.11a/b/g devices will be unable to decode, creating a potential security risk if someone attaches a rogue 802.11n AP to your infrastructure.
AirMagnet's latest release combats this problem by recognizing the additional 802.11n-specific sections of 802.11 beacon frames; however, this does not provide complete visibility into 802.11n traffic. The main limiting factor is that AirMagnet's distributed sensors are still based on an 802.11a/b/g chipset, but 802.11n sensors are in the works. In addition, full 802.11n frame decoding can be achieved today using Laptop Analyzer 7.5 with an add-on 802.11n adapter, which can function as a software sensor for Enterprise 8.0. AirMagnet competitors AirTight and AirDefense also support detecting 802.11n equipment.
In addition to finding problems at Layer 2 of your wireless network, an optional spectrum analysis module integrated into AirMagnet's sensors provides visibility into the RF or physical layer, where cordless phones and signal jammers can wreak havoc on WLAN performance and reliability. Utilizing spectrum analyzer smarts from Cognio (recently acquired by Cisco Systems), AirMagnet can play back historical spectrum data in addition to identifying sources of interference. This capability really sets AirMagnet apart from its competitors, which offer little or no spectrum analysis integration. Available in October 2007, Enterprise 8.0 is free for existing customers with a support contract.
Jameson Blandford is the lab director at the Center for Emerging Network Technologies at Syracuse University.