AirTight Frees Up Security Client
Many in the industry see AirTight's move to free clients as part of a broader trend in the development of enterprise wireless security software. "The clients will ultimately be free," says Jack Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates. "You'll pay for it on the back end."
Judging from user responses, that will be a tough sell for many enterprises -- even if it is free. "We're already a Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) shop, we use the Cisco lock-down tools," says Craig Patterson, an IT consultant at the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Others could be more open to the concept. "In general, anything that helps with security is interesting," says Roger Cass, CTO at healthcare firm MediSync Inc. "What you need is a subscription service, so you get regular updates." The AirTight software is designed to detect and warn users about wireless LAN security attacks in both the office and home environment. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup is even promoting the software as a way to protect against the latest Windows wireless vulnerability. (See Windows Wireless Security Hole.)
The client software controls the wireless connections that are established from any device running the SAFE software over a number of different wireless network types, including 802.11, Bluetooth, and EV-DO. It also allows the user to set different policies for when the device is "at work," "at home," or "away."
A spokesperson for AirTight says the company will update the client as new wireless LAN security threats emerge.
AirTight is hoping that the free downloads will encourage more enterprises to consider its broader software package. "A lot of enterprise behaviors are driven by consumers," says Dennis Tsu, VP of marketing for the startup. Indeed, wireless LAN first arrived in the corporate world as users started to bring WLAN access points into work and plug them into their corporate network.
AirTight's "give away the razor, sell 'em the blades" strategy looks to capitalize on two related trends: First, companies are increasingly realizing that wireless security is a crucial element of their networking budget, and must include mobile users, in or out of the office. Second, although major enterprise networking players like Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) have been beefing up their wireless security portfolios, the market is so fluid that no one company can cover every aspect.
This means that the smaller firms have an opportunity to get a foot in the door and raise their profile by offering free security software that fills a gap for anxious networking managers. For, like wireless LAN access point networking before it, wireless network security is increasingly coming under the control of the IT department -- not the individual users.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung