Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Passmark: Professional Wireless Monitor

If you are looking into wireless traffic analysis software check WirelessMon V2 by PassMark, which got acquired recently by the security giant, RSA. For simple things like checking if a connection is showing a lot more package errors while receiving data than you would have originally thought. Or for a through checkup of a wireless access point signal.

Maybe you are wondering if some wireless phone at the same 2,400Gz range isnt't throwing your packets around, or if there is some interference from another wi-fi at close range.

Trivial or not, you can check them out with the evaluation copy of the Professional version which can be used for 30 days. Some features are disabled. But the Professional version 2.0 adds support for GPS and a Map tab where you can display an image. Like of a topographical map for a given region.

Set your GPS connection at the General Options dialog. After that you can obtain your current position for map calibration. You can set two points on a image by first clicking the Set Point 1 button and then pointing the mouse in the location on the map that corresponds to your current position. You can also type coordinates by hand.

Among the features provided by WirelessMon you will find the ability to log the data obtained through its scanning:

Index,Time,Percentage(%),Strength(db)
0,04:11:41:515 31-May-2006,18,-83,36.986718,-121.933305

...

10,04:11:56:515 31-May-2006,22,-80,36.986718,-121.933305

By default the app opens always on top and maximized so you need to remove the setting and move it around and then resize it manually. Bit too much work.

The product offers professional looking graphs of each available network adapter and wireless access point tracked. You can select among signal strength (% or db) and time, receive and send rates. You can also check all the network properties for the connection on the IP Connection tab.

You can use an access point icon to draw their location on a map. The product uses hexagons to show the signal strength of a given AP. The combined signals of all AP's in an area will indicate which region has the best possible signal. Finally, the Statistics tab gives you just that, tons of data about averages of the current connection throughput.

The standard edition costs US$19 and the Professional US$49. Passmark website lists the two features missing in the Standard edition:

  • "No GPS: GPS coordinates are not supported and cannot be used for logging or creating a signal strength map
  • "No signal strength map: The map tab and options are disabled so a signal strength map can not be created, saved or printed."
Conclusion

No GPS in the Standard package is a bit harsh, but after trying equivalent packages on PDA's without much success, a Windows based version with a good feature set like this one and professional looking job seems like a good value, at least until proof in contrary.

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