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Remote computer access to files and systems must secure

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Organizations are overhauling strategies to meet the challenges of the mobile workforce.


As workforces grow mobile and diverse, organizations are challenged to enable secure remote access from unconventional and unmanaged devices. Today, two out of three enterprises have a traditional VPN for managed laptops. But most are waging an uphill battle to stop infected laptops from penetrating networks via VPN, and few have a comprehensive strategy for mobile handheld devices.

From accommodating mergers to expanding application breadth, many companies are finding it necessary to revamp strategies that no longer meet their needs. Simply connecting travelers to the corporate network is no longer sufficient, or even acceptable. New products and approaches have emerged to reduce risks and fill gaps, from browser-based and mobile VPNs to endpoint security and identity-based network access control (NAC).

From a technology standpoint, businesses can deliver the appropriate degree of resource access to anyone, anywhere, using any device and connection. But from a strategic perspective, how do companies determine which new approach can best address their objectives?

For Norwich University in Vermont, it was an evolutionary process. The university tried half a dozen platforms to deliver remote access to 800 faculty members and 2,000 students. "Our

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security challenges are great, for we are required to provide various levels of support and application access," says Richard Quelch, network manager at Norwich. "While each product [we tried] provides great connectivity for specific application types, no single product does everything well."

Ultimately, Norwich combined several products. Sonic-WALL's Aventail, Citrix Systems' NetScaler and Cisco Sys-tems' ASA appliances now provide remote access; endpoints are scanned before access and then monitored by Cisco MARS. "I think we're finally where we want to be," says Quelch. "It's a huge relief that we can put restrictions on what [users] connect to and keep a record of their activity. We're providing better access, getting more applications out to people, while keeping them more secure."

This was first published in November 2007

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