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IBM Research Demonstrates Industry's First Auditing Tool For Wireless Network Security

Linux-Based Tool Helps Security Experts Protect Wireless Networks From Hackers

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HAWTHORNE, N.Y - 12 Jul 2001: IBM Research has demonstrated the industry's first automated auditing tool that can monitor 802.11 wireless networks and collect security-related information, allowing system administrators to take proper actions to improve network security. The Wireless Security Auditor, a prototype application running on Linux, enables network administrators to find vulnerable access points by monitoring and analyzing them in real time, and ensuring they are either corrected or removed so they no longer pose a security threat to the company network.

The security auditor runs on a small wireless PDA. This small form factor will give security consultants the mobility needed to assess companies' wireless network security. For ease of use, the audit information is presented on a color coded user interface, with properly configured access points shown in green, and vulnerable ones shown in red. Detailed information is also available for all access points, including station and network name, address, location, and security state.

"Today's wireless networks are facing big security challenges," says Dave Safford, manager of Network Security at IBM Research. "As 802.11 wireless networks become more common, companies' intranets are increasingly being exposed to drive-by hacking. Our Wireless Security Auditor will be an essential tool for security experts to maintain wireless network security."

Existing security for 802.11 wireless consists of two subsystems: a data encryption technique called Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and an authentication algorithm called Shared Key Authentication. WEP and Shared Key are optional, and wireless access points are typically shipped with both turned off. Wireless network security needs to be checked very frequently as employees often add new wireless devices, which may become easy access points for hackers. This tool will allow security consultants to find what access points exist and examine their configuration so that they can take proper steps to keep the wireless network secure.

IBM Research, with almost 3,000 researchers worldwide, operates facilities in eight locations around the globe, including Yorktown Heights, N.Y., San Jose, Calif., Ruschlikon, Switzerland, Yamato, Japan, Haifa, Israel, Beijing, China, Austin, Texas and Delhi, India. Major areas of research include computer systems, computer applications and solutions, systems technology, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, storage and communications. More details about the technological achievements of IBM Research scientists can be found at: www.ibm.com/research.

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