If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you have probably noticed that I make an effort to confine my posts to vendor-neutral topics. However, every now and then I come across vendor-specific technology implementations that are so cool that I just have to say something about them. In this case, it is DHCP fingerprinting by Aruba Networks.
Without getting into too much technical detail, this technology watches the DHCP requests of wireless clients and identifies the operating system based on the way each device asks for an address. This feature is really cool because it means you can allow a user to connect to the same ESSID (read: wireless network), using the same username/password, with a variety of different devices, and get different levels of access depending on the specific device type. For example, if the user connects to the WLAN with a company issued laptop then they get access to the internal network. However, if they connect using an iPad they get Internet access only. Didn’t I say this was cool?
Enough typing, I recorded a little demonstration of DHCP fingerprinting for your viewing enjoyment:
As BYOD becomes more prevalent, I think we are going to start seeing technologies like this popping up all over the place. This is a good thing since it gives administrators the ability to allow BYODs onto the network without having to give up on security and control.
How do you deal with BYODs in your environment? If you have thoughts or comments regarding the proper way of dealing with BYODs please share them in the comments section. Also, as usual, please share this post with others if you found it useful or interesting.
I firmly believe that the only way to stay on top of the wireless networking industry is to fully embrace the idea of lifelong learning. To me, this doesn’t just mean learning new skills and products, but also taking the time to revisit and refresh the things you think you already know. That’s why I jumped at the chance to sit in on a three-day Implementing Aruba WLANs course being held at my office. True, I do already have my ACMA, but I attained this back when controllers were running ArubaOS 3.x. Now that ArubaOS 6.x is out, I figured it couldn’t hurt to revisit the course and make sure I’m still up to date. Here are a few observations after completing the first day:
Regardless of how simple a WLAN controller is to configure, anyone involved in designing, securing, or administering a WLAN must still understand the underlying 802.11 technology. Fancy wizards and snazzy interfaces are great when things are working fine, but don’t expect your WLAN to run as efficiently, securely, or resiliently if you don’t know what all those knobs and dials are actually doing. That beings said, Aruba Networks has done a great job improving and enhancing their configuration wizards. These wizards do such a good job of simplifying the basics of configuring your controller(s) that someone could technically get a secure WLAN up and running with very little wireless knowledge or experience. Unfortunately, there is no WLAN Administration Wizard. Until that day arrives, hit the books and start learning the underlying technology. A good place to look for vendor neutral wireless certification is the CWNP organization.
Wireless networks are at a critical, and potentially dangerous, juncture in their relatively short lives. If we spend the time to properly plan, design, and secure wireless networks they have the potential to dramatically affect the way we work and play in a very positive and reliable way. However, if we rely too heavily on the perceived simplicity of deploying wireless networks without doing our homework first, then we are setting mobile computing up for failure or, at the very least, an existence that falls very short of the true potential of wireless networking.
Overall, day one was very informative and a lot of fun. It’s always great to see people putting in the time and effort required to properly implement a wireless network. So far the Deploying Aruba WLANs course has delivered what was promised and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the next two days.