No-client VPN opens remote working options

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No-client VPN opens remote working options

A clientless virtual private network (VPN) appliance from Whale Communications promises to provide cheap, secure remote access to enterprise software, writes Antony Adshead.

The e-Gap appliance gives remote access to e-mail, ERP, CRM, HR and other business systems without client software having to be installed on the user's machine. This means remote workers could potentially use any computer, wherever they are.

It is claimed to be an advance on existing SSL (Secure Socket Layer) VPNs because it effectively creates a "gap" in the hardware to separate external and internal networks.

The device gives a greater degree of security by building hardware limitations into the legitimate actions that can be carried out by remote users, so curbing the ability of malicious users to manipulate company data.

Because the appliance builds security into hardware it also cuts down on the need to issue multiple SSL keys by aggregating the number in use at any given time.

VPNs use a variety of methods to create a secure "tunnel" within the public Internet.

They have traditionally used the IPSec security protocol, which provides authentication and encryption over layer three - the network layer. For VPNs to work in this way they traditionally required software to be installed on the client.

Whale's e-Gap appliance operates at the transport layer. When an SSL session is initiated, the server sends a security key to the browser from which it is accessed, the browser then uses this to send a randomly generated key back, creating a unique identifier for the session.

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