Optical/IP Networks

Unstrung Insider: Got IDS?

Many enterprise networking incumbents are being tardy in developing a crucial wireless LAN security application – leaving the market wide open for canny startups – according to the latest edition of Unstrung Insider.

The new report, entitled "Intrusion Detection and Prevention for 802.11 Wireless LANs," analyzes the growing market for 802.11 intrusion detection systems (that's IDS, as opposed to IBS, acronym freaks). This is software, used in combination with a wireless LAN switch or appliance system, dedicated overlay hardware, or installed on laptops and handhelds, that is used to warn administrators of attacks on the network and – in some cases – prevent such attacks from happening (see Wireless IDS Is All the Rage).

Gabriel Brown, the chief analyst at Unstrung Insider and the author of the report, says that with security still a prime concern for enterprise wireless customers, IDS can be a key selling point for vendors. "I'm convinced these systems are a major contribution to the security of wireless networks," says Brown. "I never unwire – or indeed unwind – without one."

Which is why Brown finds it surprising that major incumbents such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) still haven't added the IDS arrow to their quiver.

Instead, startups such as AirDefense Inc., AirMagnet Inc., Aruba Wireless Networks, Network Chemistry, Red-M Communications Ltd., and others are capitalizing on the justified paranoia of enterprise wireless LAN users, Brown determines.

Brown finds that Extreme and Nortel are playing catch-up with the startups. According to Simon Wilson, product marketing manager for LAN and WLAN in EMEA for Nortel Networks [ed. note: Simon's job title has its own office], IDS is "part of the plan" for his company. Extreme simply says that it is working on an IDS application.

Meanwhile, Foundry is partnering with AirMagnet to get its hands on the startup's security know-how. Cisco is said to be testing out third-party IDS software in its labs at the moment, and will likely incorporate its favored code as part of its "structured wireless-aware networked infrastructure enhancements" (SWAN) upgrades.

Whichever direction the incumbents decide to take, they will need IDS in order to offer customers a well-rounded suite of wireless LAN applications in 2004, Brown concludes.

— DAN (Drink-Aware Network) Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

The report – "Intrusion Detection and Prevention for 802.11 Wireless LANs" – costs $400. An annual subscription to Unstrung Insider is ordinarily $1,250, but is currently available at the special introductory price of $899. For more information, including subscription information and research examples, go to: www.unstrung.com/insider.

Sign In