Cisco Aironet Chipset

The Aironet chipset is a Cisco, Inc., proprietary chipset, developed on the basis of Intersil's Prism. Common opinion is that the Aironet chipset is a Prism II "on steroids." Cisco added some useful features to their Aironet cards, including regulated power output and the ability to hop through all ISM band channels without running a software-based channel hopper. Cisco Aironet cards are perfect for wireless network detection due to their excellent receiving sensitivity and seamless traffic monitoring from several access points running on different channels. On the other hand, you would not be able to lock these cards on a single channel or set of channels in the monitor mode because in this mode they will continue to hop through the band on a firmware level.

Other useful features of the Cisco Aironet cards are the amber traffic detection light and well-supported antenna diversity (providing that you use the Air-LMC350 series card with two external antenna connectors). These cards are very well supported across all common platforms including Microsoft Windows and practically any UNIX-like operating system in existence. The ACU configuration utility supplied by Cisco for both Windows and Linux is very user-friendly and has capabilities of a decent wireless site surveying tool.

Unfortunately, because Cisco Aironet chipset specifications are proprietary and are different from the original Intersil Prism, HostAP drivers do not work with Cisco Aironet and neither does the AirJack. However, it is rumored that an undisclosed version of the AirJack driver for Cisco Aironet does exist. This limits the use of Cisco Aironet cards for man-in-the-middle attacks and DoS resilience testing. Nevertheless, these cards are our PCMCIA cards of choice for site surveying, rogue access points detection, and multiple-channel traffic analysis.