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Aruba updates WLAN management software

Aruba Networks has released an updated version of its wireless management software, with changes that let retailers and others monitor compliance with the latest payment-card security standards.

The company's AirWave Wireless Management Suite 6.2 now can track compliance with version 1.2 of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).The suite can create an array of reports documenting where the wireless network is in sync with the standard, and where it's not.

The software update also includes placement suggestions for radio sensors; support for Cisco LWAPP 5.1/5.2 features; monitoring of Cisco 871w routers and remote Aruba access points; and the ability to accept a management trap by a Cisco WLAN controller as soon as it happens rather than waiting for a periodic polling of that controller. (Compare WLAN management products.)

AirWave, which Aruba acquired early in 2008, manages multivendor WLANs, mesh, and WiMAX networks. (We reviewed AirWave in our September 2008 Clear Choice Test.)

The PCI spec mandates data-security standards for merchants and service providers handling credit or debit card data. The latest standards became mandatory this month, according to Aruba. The new AirWave version evaluates managed devices on the WLAN based on these PCI requirements.

Previously, for example, merchants were allowed to continue relying on the Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol, an original part of the IEEE 802.11 WLAN standard. But WEP has been shown to be easily compromised. The newest PCI standard forbids WEP on all new networks after March 1, 2009, and requires eliminating it from existing networks by June 2010, says Manav Khurana, head of industry marketing for Aruba.

Also in keeping with PCI Council recommendations, quarterly WLAN audits can now be done automatically over scores or hundreds of retail outlets via AirWave.

By continuously monitoring WLANs with reference to the PCI standard, AirWave can immediately identify when any change at a site causes a violation of some part of the standard. The software flags the change, and alerts network administrators.

The new AirWave release also now takes the information it had always been collecting and aggregates this into a set of standard PCI reports. Previously, this information was collected and stored separately, and network administrators had to synthesize it on their own.

New reports include one that identifies new devices and users, and another for periodic inventorying of WLAN devices and networks.

AirWave Wireless Management 6.2 is now in beta test, with general availability due in February. Existing customers with service contracts receive the update free.

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