Aruba boosts WiFi security, remote management

Aruba Wireless Networks this week is scheduled to launch a fixed-configuration wireless LAN switch aimed at bringing advanced WiFi management and security to branch offices, or expanding deployments throughout a larger company.

Aruba Wireless Networks this week is scheduled to launch a fixed-configuration wireless LAN switch aimed at bringing advanced WiFi (wireless fidelity) management and security to branch offices, or expanding deployments throughout a larger company.

The Aruba 800 is a 12-port WLAN (wireless LAN) switch that could help customers deploy more-secure and better-managed 802.11-based infrastructures by providing centralised management and security policy enforcement for WiFi access points.

The switch is the first fixed-configuration box from the vendor — its 5000 series, which debuted in April, is chassis-based. The company is targeting the 800 model at smaller offices, or branch locations linked to a corporate network.

The Aruba 800 is a Layer 2/Layer 3 Ethernet switch with processors installed that can handle tasks such as WiFi access point management and configuration, and security enforcement. The boxes also can provide 802.3af-based Power over Ethernet to devices that support the POE (power over Ethernet) standard. This can give users more freedom for deploying WiFi access points because the devices don't have to be installed close to an electrical outlet.

The box will compete with similar fixed-configuration WiFi switches from vendors such as Airespace, Extreme Networks, Nortel and Trapeze Networks.

The Aruba 800 can be used in enterprise branch offices for deploying wireless access points that can be managed remotely from a central site running an Aruba 5000 series switch, the vendor says. In a branch office, the Aruba 52 access points attach to the 800 connected to a WAN (wide area network) router. This lets administrators in a company headquarters remotely make configuration and security-access changes to the Aruba 52 over the WAN.

With the Aruba 800, the vendor is introducing a feature it calls "wireless LAN MUX-ing", which can let a customer deploy a WLAN without making changes to its wired infrastructure. Aruba says its 800-brand devices can be deployed in wiring closets and linked back to a central Aruba 5000 chassis through a proprietary tunneling protocol over the LAN. This keeps WLAN traffic separate on the network for security purposes without forcing administrators to set up a separate virtual LAN segment for individual WiFi access points.

Along with the Aruba 800, Aruba is introducing AirOS 2.0, an upgraded operating system for its switches. One new feature in the software is WiFi intrusion-detection-system (IDS) capability.

"Traditional IDS products are good at stopping internet-based kinds of attacks," says Keerti Melkote, vice president of marketing and co-founder of Aruba. "But they are not the best at identifying and stopping the new kinds of wireless network attacks."

Like traditional IDS gear, Aruba's WLAN IDS looks for signature bit patterns on a network to identify a common attack. According to the company, an 800 running WLAN IDS can identify malicious users trying to scan a building for available access points. The capability can be used to block wireless hackers from flooding an access point with data requests to disable the device.

The Aruba 800 costs $US3000. AirOS 2.0 software with a WLAN IDS is priced at $2000.

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