Yesterday I wrote about Avaya joining the cloud WLAN party. And now we’ve got a new guest: WatchGuard.
The company best known for its bright-red Firebox security appliances has announced Wi-Fi Cloud, which lets customers manage WatchGuard’s wireless APs (the 120 and 320 models) from an online portal. Cloud management is now de rigueur for WLAN vendors, so the announcement lets WatchGuard check that particular box.
The company has also sweetened the launch with some added features, including wireless IPS (WIPS), and analytics designed to appeal to retailers and other organizations that want information about how customers move through a physical location.
The WIPS technology aims to prevent rouge network and wireless devices (both APs and client devices) from attaching to the network. The company also says its WIPS technology can prevent man-in-the-middle and DoS attacks.
As with any intrusion prevention system, administrators must be aware of the possibility for false positives, though WatchGuard claims it has taken steps, including a “marker packet” process, to improve its accuracy.
Customers can also force wireless traffic through a WatchGuard security appliance, such as a firewall or UTM device, to get features including URL filtering. However, it’s not necessary to have a WatchGuard appliance to use the APs and Wi-Fi Cloud service.
WatchGuard notes if companies already have a WLAN infrastructure, the 120 and 320 APs can be deployed just for the WIPS features.
Wi-Fi Cloud also includes analytics options to help retailers and business owners measure customer traffic and in-store behavior.
The APs track radios in mobile devices, so the analytics system can measure the number of people going in and out of a store, where they go inside the store and how much time they dwell in particular locations, new and repeat visitors, and busiest times of day.
The accuracy of the in-store location feature will depend on where APs are placed and how many there are. WatchGuard says a single AP will cover approximately 2,000 square feet, but store owners will get more precise location data (for example, whether a user is in aisle 4 or aisle 5) through triangulation among multiple units.
Floor plans can also be combined with basic geofencing techniques so that the APs will ignore mobile radios from adjacent properties.
The Wi-Fi Cloud service also has an option to let users access the wireless network in exchange for social media credentials. For example, if a customer shares Facebook credentials, and is logged in to Facebook while on the wireless network, the analytics service can capture demographics including gender, age, and buying habits.
This information can be tied to loyalty programs or to provide in-store offers.
Pricing starts at $525 for the AP 120 with one year of the Wi-Fi Cloud service.