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Rise of wireless Lan and VPNs could improve PC security

The development of wireless technology and virtual private networks offers the possibility of major changes to network...

The development of wireless technology and virtual private networks offers the possibility of major changes to network architecture.

The current standard network architecture uses encryption and security devices at the outer, internet-facing boundary of the network. Routers lie behind it, followed by a further screen of firewalls protecting corporate desktops and core systems.

Some experts say this approach is increasingly cumbersome and that a new architecture can be devised using lessons learned in wireless Lan deployments.

Because 802.11b wireless Lan encryption standards have never been completely secure, experts have always recommended the use of VPNs between devices. That is, encrypting traffic between wireless devices.

Experts are now suggesting applying that method to fixed PCs to create a more pervasive security architecture.

Evan Kaplan, chief executive of network device manufacturer Aventail, said, "People are starting to treat all PCs as potentially 'dirty', encrypting traffic between them and not having a firewall between the company's PCs and the internet. The firewall surrounds only the datacentre and storage assets."

Neil Rickard, an analyst with Gartner, said the approach had merits. "With wireless Lan you needed an infrastructure with authentication, passwords and servers. People are now building this out to the rest of the network at a low incremental cost."

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