Pocket-sized wireless detection

Wednesday, 3 September 2003, 1:39 PM EST

There you are: sitting in your favorite bookstore/café, sipping a caramel latte and casually leafing through the latest copy of Wired magazine when you are suddenly bombarded from almost every direction without warning and with no means to stop it. Fortunately, the storm you are caught in is made up of 802.11 packets which are traveling in the 2.4 or 5 gigahertz range and pose no real physical danger to you or those around you.

It is becoming increasingly difficult not to be caught up in WiFi traffic since so many homes and businesses are taking advantage of this technology. Unfortunately, the ever-decreasing prices and ever-improving ease-of-use has also caused wireless networks to be real security problems within businesses and institutions. At a personal level, it would be useful to have a way to know where these public "hotspots" are without having to carry around equipment that makes you look like an extra from a Star Trek set. At a corporate level, it would be extremely advantageous to have a means to detect rogue WiFi equipment at all company sites without having to spend many thousands of dollars on an enterprise-level WLAN detection system.

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