Carrier WiFi

Wireless Protection Infectious

Drop 'em and cough... this won't hurt a bit: It's e-hygiene week in the wacky world of enterprise wireless LAN startups.

Both wireless LAN switch maker Aruba Wireless Networks and software-focused appliance youngster Roving Planet Inc. have introduced virus protection products, and switch contender Airespace Inc. is working with as-yet-unnamed partners to add this capability to its code quiver.

Why do wireless LAN business users need more virus protection than they probably already have installed on their laptops? Well, because they are much less choosy and more promiscuous about the type of networks they connect to on a WiFi-equipped computer, and there are new viruses and worms coming out all the time, say the vendors.

Aruba's bid to be the wireless barrier method of choice uses the company's stateful firewall in conjunction with client and network software from Zone Labs Inc. to block user network access until it has been certified that they are running the latest patches and anti-virus software (see Aruba Creates Security Sandbox).

Meanwhile, Roving Planet's Quarantine Zone, part of its Central Site Director (CSD) 2.5 software update, redirects new users logging onto a network so that the system can check that their machines have the appropriate virus protection installed. If they don't, the user is blocked from the network and pointed at the download Website. Once the system has given the user the all-clear, they are tagged on a white list as a safe surfer, baby (see War on Wireless Worms).

Meanwhile, Airespace says it will have a similar wireless prophylactic soon. 'Til that day, it's the rhythm method for Airespace users.

Appliance startup Vernier Networks Inc. was the first out of the gates with virus software last September. All the major startups have – or are working on – similar software.

Finally, some industry watchers suspect that major IT vendors Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) may add virus protection as they add more wireless LAN hooks into their enterprise system administration software.

IBM has already introduced a standalone wireless LAN intrusion detection system (see IBM Eyes the Enterprise).

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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