Carrier WiFi

IBM Eyes the Enterprise

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) has set its sights on the enterprise wireless LAN market with the launch of a security system designed to protect businesses from security attacks on their 802.11 networks (see IBM Secures WLANs).

Until now, IBM has largely been involved in rolling out public hotspots in partnership with hardware vendors (see IBM Does It for the Kiddies). IBM Global Services, though, has always had a presence on the services and support side of enterprise wireless LAN networks.

IBM's Wireless Intrusion Detection Service is targeted at “medium to large enterprises,” according to company spokesperson Kelly Gail, and uses sniffing technology developed in-house by its research labs division.

The system uses Linux-based 802.11 radio monitors, which sit in the wireless LAN network, broadcasting information about the network to an IBM Global Services center in Boulder, Colo., which monitors the reports around the clock so that the customer can be instantly notified if an attack happens.

This information is also sent to IBM Tivoli network resource management software, which can be used to present a daily report on the state of the WLAN network to the customer.

The outsourced 24-hour network monitoring service is the most notable piece that IBM brings to the wireless LAN security table. WLAN sniffer startups like AirMagnet Inc. and WildPackets Inc. have been developing these kinds of handheld and passive network monitoring systems for a couple of years; and most of the WLAN switch startups claim to offer at least some of these capabilities as part of their overall systems (see AirMagnet Airs 802.11 Upgrade and WLAN Issues Exposed).

Nevertheless, if the results of Unstrung’s recent poll are anything to go by, the IT giant is certainly targeting the right space. Respondents were outspoken in their demands for true business-class kit, claiming there can be no such thing as too much security when it comes to installing 802.11 networks (see WLAN's Business Bullies).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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