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WLan handheld diagnostic tool aims to cut hacking

This week sees the UK launch of AirMagnet's wireless local area network (WLan) diagnostic tool which runs on handhelds designed to the Microsoft Pocket PC specification, writes Antony Adshead.

The AirMagnet handheld wireless card and software bundle, from Global Secure Systems, allows network managers to install, secure and troubleshoot 802.11b WLans. It can generate a full security audit and analyse network performance issues such as signal strength, channel congestion and background noise.

AirMagnet can detect unidentified access points and stations, and can monitor performance issues such as channel interference and bandwidth constraints. It alerts the user when such conditions are detected. Its handheld status makes it easily portable inside or outside a building to detect signals.

Wireless networks based on 802.11b have become increasingly widespread over the past year despite reports of the ease with which hackers can access them.

The fundamental encryption algorithm in 802.11b, wireless equivalent privacy is flawed, as it allows an intruder to predict key sequences, but AirMagnet said its package will help to reduce hacking and enable a better set-up for access points. It enables network professionals to troubleshoot WLans.

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