The Wi-Fi access at the presidential debate has sparked quite the discussion online for techies, journalists and publications. It kicked off with the tweet by Ken Vogel from Politico who was in attendance featuring a photo of NETSCOUT’s AirCheck Wi-Fi Tester. IT pros are focusing the discussion on whether or not a network owner has the right to govern access to personal hotspots within their venue.
Deploying large Wi-Fi networks in public venues, say a presidential debate for example, share many of the same challenges as deploying them in enterprises. There are many devices that must connect and receive high performance, putting a strain on the network. IT teams work to deliver services seamlessly and with mobility over Wi-Fi networks, and having the right tools to troubleshoot is to everyone’s benefit. Here are some major concerns for IT teams responsible for maintaining the integrity of their WLAN:
There are many security concerns with unauthorized devices and malicious intent that must be mitigated. An unauthorized access point (AP) connected to a network is referred to as a rogue AP, and this can expose a network to many security breaches including unauthorized access, hackers getting access to private data, planting viruses, launching DoS attacks, etc. A rogue AP can also be used in “honeypot attacks” in which a Wi-Fi network is spoofed: unsuspecting users log into the spoofed network thinking it is the corporate one, and then enter sensitive information like passwords that the hacker easily acquires. In this case, the rogue AP is not actually connected to the corporate network, thereby eluding traditional detection methods.
Unauthorized devices introduce more than just security concerns; they can also impact performance significantly. It doesn’t matter if these are different access points with different connections to the internet (i.e., cellular links or wired links). An unauthorized access point in the same area can interfere with other Wi-Fi networks, negatively impacting performance for everyone. That is not to say that a sports arena, for example, that runs a Wi-Fi service for its patrons must prohibit the use of personal hot spots (and selling Wi-Fi access is an entirely different issue). But it does need to ensure high performance and security for its networks.
The NETSCOUT AirCheck is used every day by technicians and engineers around the world to troubleshoot and validate Wi-Fi performance and connectivity. This includes private enterprises and public venues. It has proven invaluable in addressing security concerns by locating unauthorized devices on enterprise networks. People use it to identify and follow a signal from a device in order to locate it. (This is also useful in locating Wi-Fi access points hidden in a ceiling that are in need of replacement or repair). What actions are then taken are up to the IT people or network owners. The AirCheck cannot block service or kick devices off of a network.
Many large stadiums have employed the AirCheck to ensure the environment is clean for both public and private Wi-Fi networks. This includes scanning the environment prior to events, and ensuring smooth operations during events. Although these stadiums don’t prohibit the use of personal hotspots, they need to ensure that certain protected networks are not interfered with, and that security and performance is maintained for the hosted network. The AirCheck’s unique form factor and functionality makes this the tool of choice in the industry for such purpose.
For more information on the NETSCOUT AirCheck G2 and how it detects and locates rogue access points, visit http://enterprise.netscout.com/aircheck-g2-demo