AirMagnet binds Cisco kit into Wi-Fi security

Wi-Fi security vendor AirMagnet has increased the support for Cisco access points in AirMagnet Enterprise 6, as well as adding multi-tasking sensors, making set-up easier and adding intelligence to spot new attacks.

“You can now use Cisco APs as scanners,” said Rich Mironov, vice president of marketing at AirMagnet. “That’s a little less than a sensor, it is not a full-function analytical device, but the AP can become a full-time dedicated scanner on all channels.”

AirMagnet probes are also embedded in two other recently launched multi-radio access points: Xirrus’ which puts 16 access points and a switch in one box, and Colubris’ multi-service WLAN controller.

In the new version of the software sensors can handle more tasks, so they can block rogue access points, while continuing to scan for other trouble at the same time.

When sensors are plugged in to the new system, they will be set up remotely by the AirMagnet server. “As each sensor is plugged in it will make DNS request to find server and get connected up,” said Mironov. “That’s not a big deal if you are putting twenty sensors out, but if you are putting 1000 out on four continents, it’s a big help.”

The company has added “Day Zero” alarms, giving the software the ability to raise an alarm when an unusual pattern of traffic suggests an attack may be under way. “We are seeing ‘phlooding’ attacks,” said Mironov. “These are distributed attacks against central authentication servers. A dictionary attack against many applications in different geographical locations, can create a flood of authentication requests which will clog up the central authentication server, so people have trouble getting logged in.”

The new version is a free upgrade and available now.

AirMagnet has also launched a wireless spectrum analyser for a laptop, intended to replace purpose built spectrum analyser hardware with a more intelligent version.

“Spectrum analysers present squiggles on screen, but never tell you what they meant,” said Mironov. “It’s like identifying planes from the silhouettes on a radar screen. Ours labels the patterns with English words like ‘microwave oven’, ‘portable phone’, ‘video camera’, or ‘Bluetooth’.”

AirMagnet already has a Wi-Fi analyser with which a laptop can detect and dissect wireless LAN signals (read our review of AirWise), but this investigates other signals that might be interfering with the spectrum used by Wi-Fi.

To do this, it has been built around a dedicated PC card — as Mironov pointed out “normal Wi-Fi cards are designed to discard and ignore non-Wi-Fi signals as noise”. It will, therefore, not interrupt any other Wi-Fi on the laptop, said Mironov.

Related links:

Five essentials to wireless security

The wireless woes of wiphishing

Wireless thrives, RFID flies, viruses multiply in 2005: Deloitte

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