AirMagnet's WLAN analyzer goes remote

Laptop Analyzer 6.0 enables users to study activity on an enterprise wireless LAN

The latest version of a wireless LAN analyzer from AirMagnet, announced Monday, allows remote scanning over any LAN or Internet connection and can run on a Centrino-equipped laptop without a separate Wi-Fi card.

AirMagnet Laptop Analyzer is software that roving network administrators and installers can load on a notebook PC and use to study activity on an enterprise wireless LAN. Among other things, it can detect radio wave interference and security violations, said Rich Mironov, vice president of marketing at AirMagnet, in Sunnyvale, California. It uses Wi-Fi client hardware on the notebook in a listen-only mode to look at packets crossing the network and run more than 130 diagnostics.

Earlier versions of the software have only been certified to run on selected PC Card Wi-Fi clients from third parties, but Version 6.0 can run on an Intel Corp. Centrino Wi-Fi chip set. That means enterprises that already have a Centrino-equipped notebook don't have to buy a PC Card just for scanning the network, but it also facilitates the other major feature of the new software, Mironov said. That feature allows a user in one office to run Laptop Analyzer while another user, such as a more experienced network administrator, runs the application at another site and watches the results in real time from across any LAN or wide-area connection. While the laptop analyzer runs on the Centrino chip set, a Wi-Fi PC Card can keep the roving notebook online via a wireless LAN, he said.

Security capabilities are enhanced with support for PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), a set of requirements set by Visa International Inc. and MasterCard International Inc. to make sure information about cardholders is kept secret. The software already can scan for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other security requirements. For example, Laptop Analyzer can detect whether the packets being exchanged over a wireless LAN are encrypted and are using the right encryption method, Mironov said.

Other enhancements include the following:

-- administrators can get security alarms sent directly to an e-mail account or to phone and other devices

-- devices on the network can be viewed on a map, in addition to the current list view

-- the software now supports PC Cards that use special IEEE 802.11a channels used in Japan

Laptop Analyzer 6.0 runs on Windows XP and 2000 and costs $3,495 for one copy of the software. It is free for users with a current support contract.

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