Product Review: WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud
WatchGuard Technologies is a network security company that delivers widely deployable, enterprise-grade security to small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and distributed enterprises. Founded in 1996, the Seattle-based company provides best-in-class Unified Threat Management (UTM), Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW), and network intelligence products and services to more than 75,000 customers worldwide. WatchGuard makes enterprise-grade security accessible to companies of all types by making simplicity a core component of each and every product. WatchGuard has focused primarily on perimeter security appliances for much of its history, but has recently made efforts to bring its security expertise to the Wi-Fi network management space. Even though Wi-Fi is now a common requirement for all businesses, security is still an overlooked, yet a critical element. Cybercriminals constantly search for ways to gain access to networks, and Wi-Fi offers an appealing entry point because it is not limited by physical barriers. As the widespread use of Wi-Fi continues to grow, so do businesses’ vulnerabilities to both opportunistic and targeted cyber-attacks. Additionally, the complex nature of Wi-Fi itself has left organizations searching for a simple and cost-effective solution for deploying and managing high-performance wireless networks.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud is the only solution on the market that can safely and automatically shut down unauthorized access points and clients, while nearly eliminating the risk of illegally interfering with neighboring wireless networks.
Wi-Fi’s many challenges—innate security, complexity and cost—are what WatchGuard is seeking to address with its latest product, WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud. Designed specifically for SMBs and distributed organizations, this solution enables IT administrators to easily and cost effectively deploy and manage fast, reliable, and secure Wi-Fi networks. When managed with a WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud subscription, WatchGuard’s new family of cloud-ready access points (the AP120 and the AP320) deliver the industry’s most sophisticated wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) technology while also empowering customers to leverage guest engagement and analytics tools to turn their Wi-Fi hot spots into valuable consumer research and marketing tools.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud essentially integrates four components into one product: patented wireless security, Wi-Fi management with unlimited scalability, business driven analytics, and powerful engagement tools. This powerful combination enables companies of any size to offer high-performance Wi-Fi, manage wireless networks with ease and capitalize on valuable customer data, all without compromising on security for their customers, partners and internal users.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud’s Wireless Security:
When paired with a WatchGuard Firebox, WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud combines the world’s leading WIPS with best-in-class UTM services to provide an essential layer of protection for wireless networks that handle sensitive data. Cybercriminals often use rogue or unauthorized devices to intercept and steal corporate data. Most traditional WIPS solutions on the market can deliver a high rate of false positives that lead to the incorrectly categorizing neighboring hotspots and connected devices as malicious. Shutting down innocuous devices and APs is a serious mistake that can result in damaged reputations and legal consequences. WatchGuard’s patented WIPS solution, built into every AP120 and AP320, automatically classifies wireless devices as authorized, rogue or external, resulting in fewer false positives. WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud is the only solution on the market that can safely and automatically shut down unauthorized access points and clients, while nearly eliminating the risk of illegally interfering with neighboring wireless networks.
In addition to this automated rogue detection and prevention process, WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud also provides several other key security features. The solution helps IT administrators to enforce Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies by automatically identifying a wide range of smartphones and tablets, and blocking unapproved devices from connecting to the network. Also, WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud provides highly accurate visualizations of access point locations. This enables IT administrators to maximize the placement of APs, see sources of signal interference, and identify rogues. The solution can then easily shut down rogues, and inforce “No Wi-Fi” policies in highly sensitive environments.”
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud’s Interactive Engagement & Analytics:
The WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud is designed to provide access to a goldmine of customer information and marketing data. Its user interface provides customizable dashboards and alerts that businesses can use to gain insights about how customers interact with their businesses physical locations. Next, insights are monetized via direct and customized communication with customers through SMS, MMS or their social network of choice.
The product allows users to create custom Wi-Fi splash pages and engage with customers based on authentication compatibility with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social applications. Customers can provide personalized Wi-Fi experiences by offering coupons, customer surveys and promotional opportunities on these captive portals.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud provides businesses with the ability to extend customer engagement strategies past the Wi-Fi splash page with the ability to configure custom messages based on predefined triggers including interaction and length of time spent in the store.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud customers can manage these social Wi-Fi features and visualize collected data to analyze demographic information, including gender, age and customer buying tendencies. Wi-Fi device location, customer dwell time, footfall, and new versus repeat users can also be captured with WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud’s zone-based analytics.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud’s Simplified Management
Wi-Fi management, including setup, configuration, monitoring, troubleshooting, and improving corporate and guest Wi-Fi access, is all accessible through a single WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud interface. Customers can scale from one to an unlimited number of APs across multiple locations using the solution’s hierarchical template-based system.
WatchGuard Go is a mobile-optimized application that enables IT administrators to manage their wireless networks using any mobile device. The app’s simple workflow ensures that customers have access to WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud’s entire set of monitoring and management tools no matter their location.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud also simplifies compliance with regulatory wireless security requirements using automated wireless scanning and ready-to-use reporting designed to support a wide range of business requirements. Network administrators have the option to schedule the generation and delivery of predefined reports that map wireless vulnerabilities to specific data security standards like PCI and HIPPA compliance.The market’s current secure wireless solutions are piece-mealed together between Wi-Fi hardware vendors and Wi-Fi management solutions. Features like analytics, customer metrics, social media based log-ins, and splash pages are currently add-ons in the wireless market. WatchGuard is aiming to disrupt this model with the introduction of Wi-Fi Cloud as an all-in-one solution.
The market’s current secure wireless solutions are piece-mealed together between Wi-Fi hardware vendors and Wi-Fi management solutions. Features like analytics, customer metrics, social media based log-ins, and splash pages are currently add-ons in the wireless market. WatchGuard is aiming to disrupt this model with the introduction of Wi-Fi Cloud as an all-in-one solution.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud’s Cloud-Ready Access Points
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud currently features two hardware options – the AP120 and the AP320 – with more to come. The AP120 delivers enterprise-grade functionality to environments that require standard network and Internet access. It is built for guest or public Wi-Fi networks that support heavy smartphone and tablet access, or smaller-footprint locations, like branch offices, stores and small classrooms, with a limited number of devices.
WatchGuard’s AP320 is perfect for busy environments with diverse client ecosystem and Wi-Fi requirements. It is a high-horsepower access point that can support critical applications like voice, video and cloud with ease. Common deployment scenarios for the AP320 include larger offices, classrooms and meeting spaces.
The two options cover a large spectrum of business types and locations. Organizations like healthcare facilities, banks, offices, and schools that manage sensitive information will benefit from tight security offered by WatchGuard. Distributed organizations such as restaurants chains and department stores will appreciate that the added layers of security does not also require new headcount in the IT department to manage them. Large enterprises that can afford dedicated IT teams, more customized security architecture, and can constantly monitor their wireless network, but this is not an option for most SMBs.
WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud subscriptions, along with the AP120 and AP320, are available now. Customers can purchase them as a stand-alone solution, or as part of a holistic configuration that routes traffic through a WatchGuard Firebox or XTM appliance, to extend best-in-class security services like APT Blocker, WebBlocker, and Gateway Antivirus into their wireless environments.
Customer service is available 24/7 with phone-based and web support; different support levels grant more benefits and increase priority targeted response time. Additionally, planned updates to the Wi-Fi Cloud follow the standard WatchGuard model.
Whitepaper: Guest Wi-Fi – The Most Valuable Marketing Tool for Physical Businesses
Whitepaper: Classification — The Critical Missing Aspect of WIPS
Solution Brief: WatchGuard Secure Wi-Fi Offerings
Online Product Information