Tying Together the Security Apps

The security problems for corporate wireless LANs appear to be fully addressed, now that 802.11i is finalized and a slew of intrusion detection and user authentication solutions are well established. Still, security continues to be an enterprise bugaboo.

In a recent survey, Sage Research pegs security overall as the number one “pain” for organizations today. This morning, Frost & Sullivan proclaimed that security is still the “biggest roadblock to increased adoption of wireless.” JupiterResearch says 30% of companies are concerned about security at public hotspots, for instance — and 3% of consumers say their employers won’t allow them to use wireless connections to go online.

So it’s no surprise that a company like iPass , which resells connectivity to enterprises for use by corporate employees while on the road, is planning to bolster security with a new platform that coordinates security policy on the server with the end user, whether logging on via dial-up, Ethernet, or at hotspots.

Jon Russo, iPass vice president of marketing, says, “The corporate LAN is very Swiss cheese. It’s no longer centralized…[and] vulnerability has risen in the connection process.” Russo says what doesn’t exist is an intelligent overlay mechanism to coordinate security applications; an overlay that can tell if “all the right components are in place and healthy.”

The new optional service, called iPass Policy Orchestration, is not meant to replace any installed security applications a company might have in place. Instead, this centrally managed service is described as a “new layer of software intelligence” that will force use of installed systems like anti-virus, firewalls, and virtual private networks (VPNs) — whatever is mandated by the corporate IT staff. Policy Orchestration will also be able to dynamically force end users into updating such services as needed, or be quarantined.

This isn’t totally new. The iPassConnect client software has integrated with such applications in the past. Russo calls the new Policy Orchestration an extension of what the company has been doing over the last year, “not a revolution.” Other companies, like iPass competitor GoRemote (formerly GRIC), also offer some form of policy enforcement.

iPass is working with over 40 vendors of firewall, anti-virus, VPN, and other security applications to integrate support of their products into the Policy Orchestration. Companies include Symantec, Cisco, Nortel, Intel, Check Point, Microsoft, Sygate, and others. Russo calls the platform vendor neutral and says there is engineering taking place on both sides to make the applications work under the iPass platform.

Julie Ask, senior analyst at JupiterResearch, says, “it’s great that iPass is continuing to innovate to stay ahead — [this] doesn’t solve the entire problem, but I think they are doing what they can to contribute to the solution.” However, she believes that in the end, end user education is the key to better security: “We still need smart users.”

iPass says corporate customers can expect to see Policy Orchestration availability in the final quarter of this year.

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