Infrastructure
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11/16/2004
12:05 PM
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New Tools Aim To Lock Up Wireless Networks

AirTight gets funding to launch wireless-LAN firewall, and Air Defense will role out security software.

Wireless network security startup AirTight Networks Inc., formally named Wibhu Technologies, landed more than $10 million in venture funding this week The funding will be used to launch a wireless-LAN firewall application later this month. AirTight's SpectraGuard firewall will help companies map wireless sensors throughout their networks, precisely locate and track wireless devices, and protect wireless networks from attack.

Wireless security vendor AirDefense Inc. also will make available the latest version of its wireless LAN security software later this month. AirDefense Enterprise 6.0 will help security administrators better defend their wireless LANs against many types of attacks.

Sales of wireless LAN gear are expected to grow to $2.1 billion this year, a 20% jump from 2003, predicts market-research firm Dell'Oro Group. Corporate wireless-access-point shipments will grow at about 47% annually through 2008, Dell'Oro says.

AirDefense Enterprise 6.0 provides admins with the ability to instantly analyze, block, or disconnect hacker and denial-of-service attacks. AirDefense Enterprise uses radio-enabled sensors to monitor wireless network traffic.

Bo Mendenhall, principal information security analyst at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center appreciates AirDefense's new security capabilities. The Health Sciences Center includes the University of Utah Hospital, community clinics, the university's School of Medicine, and other health institutes and centers throughout Utah and the Intermountain West. The center's IT team supports more than 12,000 users.

The Health Sciences Center has about 150 access points that it monitors with AirDefense, Mendenhall says. In the 16 months it has been using AirDefense, Mendenhall says he has spotted several employees who have set-up so-called "rogue" wireless-access points. "We've spotted a couple of researchers who went out and installed an access point for the convenience," he says. Unprotected and poorly configured wireless-access points can pose a great risk to any network, potentially enabling an attacker armed with a notebook and wireless-access card access to sensitive information. "Unprotected access points can be the perfect springboard for hackers to gain access to your network," Mendenhall says.

Some of the new features in AirDefense version 6.0 include the ability for the system to differentiate between access points that could be from a neighboring network and access points that are connected to the user's network. It also can detect more than 200 types of attacks against wireless networks. "These enhancements add some very powerful security tools," Mendenhall says.

Pricing for AirTight's SpectraGuard isn't available. Pricing for AirDefense's Enterprise 6.0 starts at $6,995 for four sensors and a server.

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