Quick Hits

AirPatrol Keeps Tabs on Illicit Mobiles

Networked sensors detect and locate mobile phones and WiFi-connected laptops

SAN FRANCISCO -- RSA 2008 Conference – AirPatrol wants you to know when your premises are prone to cellphone-based crime or fraud with the WiVision Enterprise detection suite it unveiled here this week.

WiVision detects and locates all cellphones on any cellular band worldwide in order to enforce no-wireless zones; AirPatrol also claims to be the first company to offer a combination of WiFi and cellular location capabilities so that wireless laptop connections don't go undetected. The vendor also said it's the only one that can identify all flavors of SMS messages. (See AirPatrol Unveils Cell Phone Detection Solution.)

Enterprise and governments have become more sensitized to the need for such capabilities in the wake of recent wireless data leakage. (See Societe Generale: How Did It Happen?) The wireless threat is multi-faceted: Built-in cameras are standard on most mobile phones, and their expanding storage capacities and data transfer capabilities make it easier to circumvent appropriate-use policies.

Mobile phone usage can also interfere with equipment used in hospitals, airplanes, and other sensitive environments. More ominously, mobile phones have been used to detonate bombs in terrorist actions.

WiVision uses a network of sensors spaced about 75 to 100 feet apart, said AirPatrol president Nicholas Miller, in an email today. He said the indoor detection range for GSM sensors is about 300 feet; CDMA systems run about 150 feet. Location detection is accurate to within 10-25 feet. WiVision also has management console software than runs on Windows XP Pro, Miller explained.

"The system cannot block voice and text messages, it just detects and locates their source," he said, adding that FCC rules prohibit blocking such communications.

WiVision sensors cost $1,500; console pricing starts at $20,000 for up to 50 seats.

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