One of the most captivating technology use cases to emerge in recent time is the use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices (also see Bluetooth Smart™), distributed in a venue, to provide proximity services advertisement and discovery. The best known instantiation of BLE is the Apple iBeacon (although as a branded technology, this is literally a subset of the broader category of devices available).
A very interesting ramification of deploying these devices is how to manage and inventory them. How does a venue prevent these from being moved? Or stolen? Or having additional devices added (either as pranks or for malicious intent)?
The answer to these questions is that it is nearly impossible to prevent – therefore the next best thing, which is still pretty good, is to provide the ability for monitoring the BLE devices.
But Cisco did one better. We figured out how to do this with our existing products and we’re showcasing this in software release 8.1.
As an extension to the existing ability of CleanAir to monitor, detect, locate, and report on Bluetooth devices as interferers, this new feature enables a venue owner to both prevent the illicit deployment of BLE devices and provide asset tracking for legitimately deployed BLE devices.
The breakdown of the entire feature is tabulated below.
In summary, Cisco can demonstrate that CleanAir can monitor, detect, locate, and report on BLE devices that are “authorized” (i.e., part of a white list) and “unauthorized” (i.e., not part of a white list)
The objective is to show all BLE devices on a single map. On that single map, distinguish between categories/subcategories of:
- known (authorized, legitimate)
- missing (authorized, legitimate)
- moved (authorized, legitimate)
- unknown/rogue (unauthorized, illegitimate)
and to display each category/subcategory as a layer on the map
Conclusion: As the premiere WLAN infrastructure equipment provider, Cisco provides the ability for existing APs to detect BLE devices acting as proximity services beacons. This includes monitoring, detection, location, and reporting of so-called “rogue” proximity services beacons (i.e., BLE devices that have been deployed without the permission of the venue owner and possibly for malicious purposes) in addition to asset tracking of legitimate BLE devices (includes alerting of missing/moved BLE devices).