WLAN platforms evolve

Wi-Fi's association with 'the cloud' grows stronger

Wireless LANs have matured to the point where some of the stand-alone functions long offered by third-party specialists are collapsing directly into the network systems and vice versa. At the same time, WLANs are growing increasingly cloud-like.

Wireless intrusion detection and prevention specialist AirTight Networks, for example, has entered into the Wi-Fi access business with a managed AP-plus-security monitoring service called AirTight Cloud Services. At the recent National Retail Federation show, the company announced that its wireless sensors could now be used as Wi-Fi APs to forward data, monitor the airwaves for security threats or both.

Customers can begin with baseline functionality (either Wi-Fi access or scanning) for $30 per AP, add intrusion detection for another $10 per AP and add intrusion prevention and alerting on top of that for yet another $10 per AP ($50 max).

With its announcement, the company acknowledged what it's been reluctant to in the past: that a certain segment of business customers want a single unified system to handle both functions, even if part-time scanning in a time-slicing fashion doesn't offer the absolute tightest security possible.

According to director of product marketing Mike Baglietto, AirTight AP/sensors switch traffic locally. He said that while the devices forward data on only a single frequency, they can scan across both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.

AirTight made its announcement just as Cisco was introducing enhanced time-slicing capabilities to its own APs at the same event.

Competitive third-party wireless security specialist AirMagnet, meanwhile, is poised to release a version of its AirMagnet Enterprise scanning system that makes identifying and acting on new threat signature definitions faster.

AirMagnet Enterprise 9.0, to be available next Monday, has been redesigned so that signature definitions are stored in a separately loadable module, explains Jesse Frankel, product marketing manager. The design enables dynamic threat updates to the system as soon as they emerge.

"We don't have to be tied to the [product] software release cycle for new signature development," says Frankel.

Upgrades are free for existing customers; sensors server and console software are priced starting at $10,000 for new customers.

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