Cisco turns to AirDefense for Wi-Fi security

Cisco Systems has claimed that big suppliers' wireless security is not good enough without help form smaller, specialist...

Cisco Systems has claimed that big suppliers' wireless security is not good enough without help form smaller, specialist start-ups.

At the launch of two dual-band 802.11a/b/g Aironet access points, Cisco announced that its Swan architecture will allow the integration of security products from other suppliers - first up being AirDefense, whose wireless IDS has just been updated.

While Cisco has been criticised for lagging on access point security, the new 1130AG and 1230AG access points catch up, with 802.11i security at Cisco prices ($699 (£377) and $999 per AP, respectively). The new APs have passed the Wi-Fi Alliance's WPA2 branding scheme for 802.11i.

Cisco has promised to deliver an upgrade to existing 1200 APs for the AES encryption which is part of 802.11i - in this announcement it offers a $299 upgrade which adds an 802.11a wireless to the older access points.

Cisco claims some improvements such as the new .11a radios have a better range than previous ones, to the extent that .11a now goes as far as .11b/g. The APs can be put in with one site survey, the company claims.

More significantly, Cisco has opened up its Swan architecture to allow IT managers to slot in security products from other suppliers, such as AirDefense.

Cisco's Swan has an intrusion detection feature, but many users have found it not adequate. Cisco’s mobility marketing manager Christophe Servais admitted to website Unstrung, that the AirDefense IDS was "better".

Instead of specialist probes, the AirDefense IDS will use dedicated Aironet APs, and the AirDefense server can be accessed through Cisco's wireless management console, Wireless Lan Solution Engine (WLSE).

Despite the superiority of security products from the start-ups, they will need deals with the big guys to survive, Unstrung said. AirDefense is likely to avoid this fate, with this deal adding to an earlier partnership with IBM, he added.

Peter Judge writes for Techworld.com

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