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Novell Rolls Out Network Security, Directory Add-Ons

Software developer Novell Inc. announced Monday a series of administrator tools that makes it easier for businesses to get their employees online with a minimum of hassle.

Secure Access, a package of utilities running $159 per user until June, gives remote and corporate users a single point of access to their company's intranet, making multiple logins and passwords a thing of the past.

There's nothing more irritating for business travelers and telecommuters than having to remember a slew of login/passwords settings to enter their boss' Web site, whether they connect by a dial up, virtual private networking (VPN) or wireless phone connection.

Paul Smart, Novell net directory division general manager, said Secure Access is his company's answer to the problem.

"Novell Secure Access gives companies the assurance that all their users -- employees, customers and partners -- have convenient and immediate access to the information and applications they need, without the hassle of managing dozens of user IDs and passwords," he said. "Equally important, the solution enhances network security by creating a common security infrastructure -- an infrastructure that is not based on individual hardware or applications, but rather on users' identities, their roles and responsibilities within a company."

Novell Secure Access comes as a complete package or in single components. The packages point to the blurring line between directory services and keeping company's secure.

The components include:

  • eDirectory Directory service, which lets administrators assign priority levels for access, depending on whether the person is an employee, customer or partner
  • NDS Authentication database to store user account creation, deletion and modification regardless of platform (Windows, Solaris, Linux, OS/390, etc.)
  • iChain Security feature that lets administrators control user access with a single login
  • Modular authentication service, which manages login methods, regardless of whether it's a password, smart card, digital certificate or biometric device
  • SecureLogin, which lets employees or other users access the intranet with one login and password
  • BorderManager, Novell's answer to the proxy server, it controls and monitors it's employees Internet access.

Jonathan Penn, an analyst with the Giga Information Group, said the merging directory/security solutions makes sense and will eventually be incorporated with many upcoming products.

"The directory service streamlines the management and broadens the accessibility of identity and access control information, allowing for more complex relationships between systems, business units and organizations," Penn said. "In the past, directory integration has been a nonessential feature, offering only occasional competitive advantage for those security solutions that had developed it. Moving forward, lack of directory integration will become a competitive liability for those enterprise security solutions that do not have it."

According to Giga, the costs associated with the many logins and passwords an employee must remember will eventually bog down help desks who will need to devote increasingly more time to resetting passwords.

As am example, Giga used a 20,000-employee company that gets an average of 3,000 help desk calls a month. If only 30 percent deal with resetting passwords (with each call costing $32.50 to $57.50 to make the fix), the company would incur yearly costs ranging from $351,000 to $621,000.

"By eliminating the management of multiple passwords and granting access to all relevant applications with a single login, SecureLogin is a huge boost to employee productivity and internal security," Smart said. "SecureLogin drives an impressive return on investment by virtually eliminating the time and money wasted on lost or forgotten passwords."