Tag Archives: Netscout

Catching Up With Netscout on Their Flagship WLAN Support Tool

linklive_solutions_smIt’s not often that most of us get to spend time with product managers at big-name Silicon Valley network companies. I’ve been extremely fortunate in this regard through my participation in the Tech Field Day franchise, and recently had the opportunity to once again hang out for a bit with Netscout, in their own offices. The topic of this visit was the company’s super popular AirCheck G2, and our host was the awesome Chris Hinsz. (Chris makes the rounds at a lot of conferences and industry events, and is passionate about helping to make the WLAN world a better place. If you ever get the opportunity to talk with him, I guarantee it’ll be time well spent.)

If you are not familiar with the AirCheck G2 yet, let’s get you squared away.

The G2 is Generation 2, given that THIS AirCheck is the follow on to the original Fluke Networks AirCheck. The division of Fluke Networks that developed the AirCheck was bought by Netscout, hence the vendor name change along the way. If you’re interested in a unique way the original AirCheck was put into service for law enforcement, have a look at another Network Computing article I did back in the day. But alas, I digress…

Back to Mobility Field Day and the G2.

Hinsz did two sessions for MFD. In the first, he provided an intro to the tester and the handy Link-Live cloud service for those who may not be familiar with it. The video is here. He also provided insight into advanced tips and shortcuts on the G2, which you can review in this video. Even if you own and use a an AirCheck G2, you just might find something new to try via these videos.

Aside from the two sessions referenced here, it was a pleasure talking with Hinsz and his team about what else is going on with the AirCheck G2. This awesome unit is truly one of the favorite tools used by many a WLAN pro given it’s versatility and portability. It’s a safe bet that we’ll be hearing more about the AirCheck story as Netscout continues to listen to what it’s customers need, given that we’re only a couple of years into the life-cycle of this tester.

 

Wardriving With the Netscout AirCheck G2- Just For Fun

Ah, wardriving. Those of us with a long history in wireless networking know well what it is, and to me the very word conjures up memories of a different time… when Wi-Fi was new, kinda edgy, and not everybody really understood it very well. There are different motivations behind the act of wardriving, and I’m going to purposefully leave that side of the discussion out.

Wardriving used to be cool…

If you’d like to learn more or re-familiarize yourself with wardriving, look at these:

Back in the day, Netstumbler was the go-to wardriving tool for Windows, while Kismet was popular with the Linux community. There have been a slew of other suitable tools, but few have stood the test of time for name recognition like Netstumbler and Kismet.

Today, all you need to wardrive is a smartphone, and it’s really not all that glamorous anymore. We’re so used to looking at that list of SSIDs that more of them is hardly exciting, and it’s actually a pain at times. But through the right lens, wardriving is still kinda fun.

Netscout’s AirCheck G2 is a big gun

As I continue to evaluate the latest model AirCheck tester from Netscout, I decided to have a little fun with it on my way to work. My wife and I carpool, and I usually ride shotgun. So, one morning I opted to let the AirCheck G2 listen as we rolled through a couple of rural Upstate NY villages. The last time I did this exercise in these sleepy hamlets, I’d be lucky if I could see two-dozen networks. But times have changed, and in a stretch of about five miles in two villages with a combine population of under 4,000 people, The G2 shows that Wi-Fi live is a-thumping even out in the country.wardrive

As you can see in the snippet above, some of these networks are obviously printers and such, but there’s still a lot going on. The AirCheck was in the car (sub-optimal reception), the vehicle was moving at 30, 45, and 55 MPH, and we have long stretches where there are no buildings. This is hardly scientific, but it is interesting and the AirCheck makes gathering and extracting the info a breeze with it’s reporting capabilities..

Here’s some of what I saw:

  • Around 2 dozen truly open networks
  • Around a dozen WEP
  • 17 WPA-PSK networks
  • Balance (around 80) WPA2-PSK
  • No 802.1X WPA
  • Lots of channel buffoonery from “CableWiFi” and “TWCWiFi”
    • 17 on channel 3
    • 8 on channel 4
    • 6 on channel 5
    • 3 on channel 7
    • 1 on Channel 8
  • At least half of all networks name NetGear-xxx or other default SSIDs

The point?

There really isn’t one, except sometimes it is fun to simply gather SSIDs along the way and see what you can characterize about them as a data set. Of course, a good tool helps- and the AirCheck G2 is a very good tool.


Related:

My review on AirCheck G2 for Network Computing