RealTime IT News
No Swan Song for Open Source IPsec
By Sean Michael Kerner
June 17, 2004

Internet protocol security for Linux got a boost today from Novell, which announced that it would be officially sponsoring and contributing to the Openswan open source project.

Corporate enterprises and others widely use the standard -- commonly known as IPsec -- as a standard security measure for virtual private networks (VPNs) and it is usually regarded as being more robust and secure than simple SSL secured access. IPSec provides for both encryption and authentication to secure data and is a standardized protocol from the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force). The problem facing Openswan had been a lack of a corporate sponsor who could help rally additional support. Now, executives with Provo, Utah-based Novell are showing a willingness to step in.

"Novell has long been a champion of secure remote access, and they recognize the benefits of IPsec virtual private networks for their customers," said Ken Bantoft, Openswan product manager in a statement. "Novell's sponsorship of Openswan allows for the continued development and maintenance of the project and lets us offer new services that will secure our position as the leading IPsec open source project."

The Openswan project is a mature open source project that is licensed under the GPL . Openswan itself was forked from an earlier open source IPsec project known as FreeS/Wan. According to the Openswan Web site, the project, was started by a few of the developers who were "growing frustrated with the politics" surrounding the FreeS/WAN project.

FreeS/Wan, which began back in 1998, sung its own swan song earlier this year and is no longer in active development. Among the reasons cited for the demise of FreeS/WAN was funding being withdrawn by the projects backers.

"Secure VPNs are an important part of an enterprise-class Linux distribution, and we look forward to contributing to the development of the Openswan project," said Markus Rex, vice president and general manager of Novell's SUSE LINUX business unit in a statement.

Novell today also announced that its BorderManager product that provided VPN as well as firewall, proxy-cache features has been certified to meet the latest ICSA labs IPsec certification. The certification is intended to prove IPsec interoperability and standard support compliance. Novell BorderManager is part of the company's Nsure secure identity management solution.

Since repositioning itself as a player in the Linux industry, Novell has had a big Linux year. The company's embrace of open source has been demonstrated to the community though the liberation of a number of its own technologies to the open source GPL license including the Yast, iFolder as well as the Ximian Evolution connector which allows for MS Outlook integration.