I was working in the lab late last night - actually I wasn't, but I was the other night and getting to grips with Fluke Network's uprated OptiView Series III integrated network analyser (INA). A couple of taps on the INA's touchscreen in wireless analysis mode brought up a sight to my eyes that, whilst not eerie, wasn't pretty. There are still wireless networks out there begging to be taken to the cleaners, broadcasting default service set identifiers (SSID – an identification code attached to wireless traffic specifying which wireless network it is running over) and having no encryption configured. However, I think the situation has improved, since most of the others had some form of encryption on, with the majority having wireless protected access (WPA/WPA2) version one or two configured.
All the networks I saw were 802.11b/g ones, with no trace of any 802.11a wireless out there or any mesh networks, large or small. With the INA I could drill into each network and pick up how many clients were connected and their bandwidth utilisation. Actually most users were probably in the 'Dog and Duck', since all the utilisation figures I saw were hardly troubling the scorers.
Fluke's INA also gives details about signal strength and whether there was any co-channel interference around. The directional antenna used by the INA also makes it easy to stalk and track down any unauthorised in-building rogue access points as well as dealing with any IEEE 802.1x-based problems, in the right hands. The INA is a great piece of kit, which network admins would probably sell their partners for - actually they'd better get a decent price, because the wireless INA costs nearly 30 monkeys or seven-and-a-half Archers.
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