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WLAN client tracking technology

Hi Lisa,
Is there any technology to track the location of WLAN clients?
Thanks, -Chong
You can use handheld WLAN discovery tools - for example, AirMagnet or BVsystems Yellow Jacket - to manually "home in" on a MAC address by observing signal strength as you walk towards a transmitting device. This kind of tool is useful for tracking down unauthorized WLAN clients (or APs). However, you need to do the legwork - this isn?t a solution for automated location-tracking.

The best that most stationary intrusion detection systems can do today is to warn you that a previously-unknown transmitter is being heard by a given receiver, which narrows your search down to about a 300 foot radius. A stationary IDS would have to process inputs from several receivers and perform triangulation to determine a more precise location. I expect to see this kind of approach in future versions of wireless intrusion detection systems like AirDefense.

Of course, there are other constructive reasons for tracking mobile client location that have nothing to do with finding intruders. Perhaps best-known reason for doing so is to support E911 emergency services. Another popular reason is for delivery of location-based commercial services to mobile devices - local area news/weather, advertising, maps, etc.

There are several companies that provide platforms for delivery of location-based services to mobile devices, but most currently focus on cellular carriers. One company focused on wireless LAN environments is PanGo Networks. PanGo?s Proximity Platform allows third parties to deliver location-based services over wireless LANs - for example, a Wireless Museum Docent application that provides a location-based guided tour to clients roaming around the Tate Modern Museum in London. Intel also recently announced plans to develop a "Universal Location Framework" that will leverage WLANs to improve E911 location-finding inside buildings.

This was last published in September 2002

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