North Bay, Ontario, Canada
Nipissing University's wireless network spans three campus locations and supports more than 4,500 students and more than 300 faculty and staff. It gives end-users Wi-Fi access to critical applications such as email, Internet and online curriculum materials in the classrooms and residence halls. As wireless expectations have grown and the network has been flooded with new smart devices and other wireless technology, the university's IT department has struggled to keep pace. The team constantly faces challenges around unpredictable access point traffic, rogue devices, interference, competing channel usage, the threat of malicious attacks, and even PCI compliance.
NETSCOUT'S AirMagnet Enterprise
Nipissing University selected NETSCOUT'S AirMagnet Enterprise to help manage and optimize wireless network performance and proactively protect against possible security vulnerabilities. The system allows the IT department to monitor performance in real-time to identify possible bottlenecks, ensure smart device connectivity, easily troubleshoot interference issues (including channel usage from other Wi-Fi networks), meet PCI compliance guidelines, quickly track rogue devices, and protect the network against possible attacks or misuse in the future.
Nipissing University is located in North Bay, Ontario, Canada and serves more than 4,500 students across three primary campuses in North Bay, Muskoka and Brantford. Established in 1967, the university received its independent charter in 1992 and is a primary undergraduate university with a reputation for excellence in teacher education, arts, sciences and other professional programs. Programs are based on personal teaching practices, innovative approaches to learning, and a growing research culture.
"Wireless connectivity is a critical service we offer to all students and staff on campus. But, ensuring the quality of this service can be challenging especially with the increase in smart devices and bandwidth usage. Not only are there performance expectations that need to be met, but we also need to proactively ensure we're meeting certain compliance standards and protecting our users. AirMagnet Enterprise gives us the insight we need and the ability to monitor 24x7 so we can deliver a network that matches the level of excellence offered by our university." - Greg Seamen, manager of infrastructure support, Nipissing University
Nipissing University's wireless network supports more than 4,500 students and more than 300 faculty and staff. The network spans three campus locations, has 530 access points (APs), and thousands of networked devices. End-users leverage Wi-Fi to access critical applications such as email, Internet and online study materials. The university is committed to excellence not only in the curriculum it offers, but the facilities and services it delivers to students and staff. Wireless access is considered a critical part of the university experience.
"As our university grows, so do the expectations around wireless access. More and more students are using smart devices and technology on campus both in residence halls and classrooms," said Greg Seamen, manager of infrastructure support at Nipissing University. "This increased usage, and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, creates many challenges for the IT department and calls for increased visibility into network performance and security. To meet the needs of students and faculty, it's important that we understand how the network is being used, what interference or access point overload issues we may have, and proactively work to eliminate rogue devices and stop malicious activity."
In addition, the campus is shared with a community college that also has its own Wi-Fi network. This can create channel usage issues, so the university must be able to monitor and see other network access points for channel planning and network health.
"Campus wireless networks are often complex ecosystems of access. Whether in classrooms, residence halls or administrative offices, connectivity and bandwidth is key to preserving university productivity, and even supporting new iPad pilot programs, networked cash machines, general student living and more," said Seamen. "However, ensuring performance and security is not simple, especially when faced with unpredictable access point traffic, strict PCI compliance guidelines, and the constant threat of rogue devices, interference and malicious attacks."
Complicating matters, the university has limited wireless bandwidth, and priority for availability is reserved for legitimate research and education purposes. Therefore, the university needs to have complete visibility into traffic loads, bandwidth and channel usage, spectrum interference and more, so it can meet both educational and lifestyle requirements for wireless.
"The university never sleeps. Students and faculty work – and play – at all hours of the day. In addition, users are constantly bringing the latest and greatest smart devices onto campus, pushing the limits of BYOD. Having insight 24x7 into how the network is performing, what devices are sucking up bandwidth, or if a security vulnerability exists, can mean the difference between network harmony or chaos," said Seamen.
Today's student and faculty population at Nipissing University expect wireless to "just work." But, without a centralized system that provides wireless visibility into performance and security, the IT team is challenged to keep the network healthy and productive.Solution
To gain visibility into the network and ensure performance and security of the wireless infrastructure, Nipissing University selected AirMagnet Enterprise, a dedicated wireless intrusion detection and prevention system (WIPS/WIDS). It provides dedicated 24x7 security and performance monitoring, and remote troubleshooting and intelligent spectrum analysis capability, so Nipissing University's IT department can centralize the monitoring and management of its wireless networks.
AirMagnet Enterprise proactively protects the university's Wi-Fi networks and users from all types of threats, and ensures maximum network performance and uptime, arming staff with tools to solve problems quickly. It provides full-time automated analysis of all Wi-Fi traffic, channels, devices, their connection state as well as optional spectrum analysis of non-Wi-Fi devices and sources of interference. This full-time view allows IT staff get to the root cause of any problem, instead of just seeing the symptoms, while ensuring full visibility and control over the wireless boundary between their network assets, the community college's network, and the outside world.
Furthermore, AirMagnet Enterprise's AirWISE engine constantly analyzes all wireless devices and traffic using a combination of frame inspection, stateful pattern analysis, statistical modeling, radio frequency (RF) analysis and anomaly detection, enabling detection of hundreds of specific threats, attacks and vulnerabilities such as rogue devices, spoofed devices, DoS attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, evil twins, as well as the most recent hacking tools and techniques such as MDK3, Karmetasploit and 802.11n DoS attacks.
“无线连接是我们向全校师生提供的关键性服务。但是，保证该服务的质量是一个挑战，尤其面对日益增加的智能设备和宽带使用。我们不仅要满足性能要求，而且要积极主动确保遵从性能标准，并保护我们的用户。AirMagnet Enterprise 为我们提供所需的网络和性能洞察力以及全天候监控能力，使我们能够提供与大学的卓越教学水平相匹配的优秀网络。”Seamen说道。
在部署 AirMagnet Enterprise 之前，IT 人员采用被动方式了解网络性能和故障排除，通常使用临时工具来解决问题。上课期间，学生们会争相使用某些接入 AP，或者晚间在宿舍里观看大量视频。IT 团队疲于应付为最终用户确保连续的连通性和吞吐量。这造成了性能投诉率居高不下，也使得 Seamen 和他的团队无法清楚地了解如何从策略上调整并升级网络。
有了 AirMagnet Enterprise，IT 人员通过综合集成频谱分析以及802.11 a/b/g/n 分析洞悉网络全局。系统前瞻性地检测到这些问题，为工程师提供局部修复建议，并提供解决该问题的有效远程工具。此外，利用自动化状态检测功能，Seamen 及其团队可以快速、准确地发现和定位可能正在影响用户使用的原因。这减少了解决复杂无线问题的时间和成本。
“如今，每个学生或教职工似乎都有智能设备。事实上，大学也正在开展在教室里使用 iPad 的试点项目。这些设备允许用户使用很多占用大量带宽的应用软件。如果不对基础设施进行适当的规划和管理，那么大学就不可能支持这些项目或智能设备，”Seamen 说道。
有了 AirMagnet Enterprise，当网络出现性能问题时，Seamen 及其工作人员会得到主动提醒。AirMagnet Enterprise 为他们提供了远程故障排除或围绕校园修复问题等所需的相关信息。IT 人员还可以利用它监视网络上运行的所有 AP 及恶意设备。因为大学与一所自己拥有 WLAN 的社区院校共享校园 ，因此信道占用管理成为减轻过载的关键所在。此外，随着学生们在热点使用智能设备或未经授权的无线设备（如无线打印机），能够主动识别这些设备并且快速定位是保证网络处于最佳运行状态的关键因素。
“就连通性和宽带消耗问题而言，研究和教学用途优先于观看视频或欣赏音乐。因此，我们一直竭力确保使无线网络首先满足教学需求。通过 AirMagnet Enterprise，我们可以查看宽带的使用情况，并且轻松识别何种因素占用了大量的宽带。这样可以为我们提供有关增强网络或调整优先访问所需的性能信息，” Seamen 说道。
此外，拥有与提供商无关的 WIPS/WIDS 解决方案对于 Nipissing 大学而言也是非常必要的。“我们的网络将运用一些最新的 AP 技术，然而，随着我们的日益发展，我们希望确保任何生产商的解决方案都能够支持新的 AP 技术。这赋予我们极大的灵活性，以便在未来进行升级或扩展无线网络时我们可以节省时间和费用，”Seamen 说。
最后，大学校园里安装了几台联网自动柜员机。AirMagnet Enterprise 的集成 PCI 合规报告功能不仅可以及时查明可能需要解决的问题，还能让 IT 人员自动报告，以使他们建立合规报告文库以供审计需要。
“AirMagnet Enterprise 已成为我们大学的关键系统。我们通过它管理性能并且迎接与智能设备和安全性相关的全新挑战。对无线网络而言，这更不在话下。我们现在可以对无线网络进行前瞻性规划、诊断并且确保其安全性。如今，连通性是我们可以有把握向全校师生提供的一种可靠且有价值的服务，” Seamen 说。