Wireless security specialist AirTight Networks, has launched an online service to remotely protect wireless LANs from vulnerabilities.

SpectraGuard Online, launched at the RSA 2008 show in San Franciso, is the first software-as-a-service (SaaS) wireless LAN security product, said AirTight, which told Techworld it would launch the service in June 2007. "There's a trend to managed services," said chief executive David King. "It turns it from a capex problem to one of opex."

The service has been made necessary because customers are caught between the demands of compliance regulations, and the complexity and cost of a full wireless intrusion protection service (WIPS), said AirTight.

The service, which costs US users $50 (£25) per wireless sensor per month, includes three modules – vulnerability assessment, regulatory compliance and vulnerability remediation – and is based on the SpectraGuard software which Techworld reviewedreviewed in 2007.

Customers buy one pre-configured sensor per office floor from AirTight. When these are plugged in they contact AirTight, which manages them offsite and sends vulnerability reports by email. The customers' data is held in a secure co-location facility audited to the SAS70 standard designed.

The vulnerability assessment module discovers all wireless assets and carries out audits; the regulatory compliance module produces reports to match the requirements of rules such as HIPAA, SOX and PCI; remediation notifies the user when vulnerabilities are detected, and blocks them, tracks the location of a threat on a floorplan, and gives a visual view of wireless signal spillage.

“I can’t stress enough how important network and wireless security are – but, unfortunately, IT capital budgets can feel a degree of strain when the required solution is implemented,” said Craig Mathias, principal with the advisory firm Farpoint Group. An online service could be very cost-effective, he said.