CEBIT: NetScreen 500 gains GPRS

NetScreen Technologies has unveiled NetScreen 500 GPRS, a firewall and VPN (virtual private network) appliance designed specifically to secure mobile phone...

NetScreen Technologies has unveiled NetScreen 500 GPRS, a firewall and VPN (virtual private network) appliance designed specifically to secure mobile phone networks.

The NetScreen 500 GPRS (for general packet radio service), which was announced in conjunction with this week's CeBIT trade show in Hanover, is an updated version of the NetScreen 500 box, according to Chris Roeckl, director of corporate marketing at NetScreen.

The latest device builds on the original's features by adding the ability to inspect GTP (GPRS transmission protocol) packets, allowing the box to accept and route GPRS traffic securely, he said.

GPRS is a high-speed mobile communication technology already used in some phone networks and will be used in the future in data networks.

The device targets the telecommunication carrier market and offers carriers a firewall, a VPN that is compliant with IPSec (Internet Protocol Security), traffic management and denial-of-service attack protection capabilities, Roeckl said. A VPN is a secure method of connecting to corporate servers using the public Internet as if it were a LAN connection. The appliance can support up to 10,000 IPSec VPN tunnels and 250,000 concurrent sessions, he said.

The NetScreen 500 GPRS, which offers up to eight 10/100 Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet ports, will be available worldwide on April 15 at a starting price of $54,995.

While carriers will want to install the appliance in their networks, so too may their partners who provide roaming service as the device allows for the secure hand-off of mobile connections over an IPSec VPN, Roeckl said. Along with secure hand-offs, the NetScreen 500 GPRS can also check for GPRS policies on network access and privileges and can block traffic from companies without roaming agreements, he added.

NetScreen has also equipped the device to offer managed security services, Roeckl said. The box offers support for 250 virtual routers, or distinct connections for 250 individual users or companies, allowing the owner of the device to offer managed services to as many as 250 customers simultaneously, he said. This capability would be useful as a managed VPN that allows customers remote access to their corporate e-mail servers and networks, or as a security layer underpinning other managed applications, he said.

Rival Check Point Software Technologies announced a similar product a few weeks ago.

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