Strengths: Ease of installation, flexibility, network-friendly
Weaknesses: Very little, but scope should be understood and sensors secured
Verdict: An innovative and capable solution for protecting your wireless LAN
AirMagnet is unusual in that it specialises in protecting wireless LANs, a very pertinent capability given the proliferation of wireless devices in the enterprise and the security headaches this can bring. The company's approach is also quite novel in that specialist hardware-based sensors are deployed and networked back to a software-based management server.
The freestanding AirMagnet SmartEdge sensor performs the primary analysis of events within the sensor itself, via an integral AirWISE analysis engine, obviating the need for heavy network traffic to and from a central analysis engine. The network of deployed sensors then reports back to the AirMagnet Enterprise Server via a conventional ethernet network, where further event correlation can take place.
It is also possible to integrate an AirWISE agent with a Cisco WLAN monitor access point, in which case the agent will communicate with the AirMagnet Enterprise Server for further analysis. This combination of capabilities provides comprehensive protection for the WLAN.
The SmartEdge sensors can be configured via a console on the network or via a serial connection directly to the sensor, which sports a conventional 9-pin connector. This is a thoughtful touch, as the latter arrangement may well suit a variety of implementations where sensors are scattered around a given physical environment. Also, sensor configuration can be easily reset, facilitating fast redeployment. Post implementation, sensors will automatically synchronise with updates to the central server, reducing ongoing maintenance requirements.
Attractive console design makes it easy to see what is going on across your network and respond accordingly, although you can also configure automated responses in order to block devices, for example outside of working hours. Integrated reporting facilities enable an increasing intelligence to be developed around your WLAN and its activities. AirMagnet has not forgotten policies and regulatory compliance either, with facilities to create policies or use pre-built versions and useful compliance checking functionality.
All in all, a very welcome tool that will enable organisations to finally have as much confidence in their wireless networks as they have in the wired variety.