For the past few months, I’ve been working on an informal series about the trials and tribulations of using public Wi-Fi networks. From the positive responses, it appears that the security tips have been helpful. With TechRepublic road warriors now savvy about Wi-Fi security, I should be happy. Well almost, there’s one essential element left to take care of.

Everything in the series thus far has been concerned about implementing security. What’s still needed is a very alert monitoring application that sits in the background making sure everything is working properly. Road warriors have enough to deal with, so let’s put this particular concern in the very capable hands of AirDefense and their free application called AirDefense Personal Lite.

How does it work?

AirDefense Personal Lite runs on Wi-Fi enabled computers, monitoring for malevolent activity (hacker pen tests), inadvertent wireless activity (ad hoc association), and Wi-Fi device and application misconfiguration (security lapses or noncorporate policies). If Personal Lite detects an anomaly, it immediately notifies the user that something is amiss. The following image depicts an alert notifying the user that encryption is disabled.

The application can also be configured to automatically disable the Wi-Fi connection if a certain predefined condition is encountered. This really helps mitigate user-invoked security problems and, even more importantly, attack vectors being explored by hackers. The following image depicts some of the many configuration settings that are available.

The myriad of configurable parameters available is not what I would consider normal for freeware but is to be expected from AirDefense.

AirDefense Enterprise

AirDefense also has an enterprise version that allows integration and is controlled by AirDefense’s Personal Central Manager. By using the enterprise version, several additional benefits become apparent:

  • Extends the wireless security perimeter to mobile users: 24×7 protection inside the enterprise and on the road.
  • Ability to define and enforce wireless security policy (corporate or regulatory) on laptops.
  • Detection and enforcement of Windows Zero Configuration Client settings.

Final thoughts

I use Personal Lite on all my notebooks and recommend it to anyone who uses Wi-Fi. Being able to detect erroneous configurations, malicious threats, and effectively stopping them gives a certain peace of mind that road warriors will appreciate.

Finally, I thought it might be helpful to link the previous articles: