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Remote Access Security

For performance and security reasons, large organizations with many simultaneous remote users should consider specialized hardware to terminate the VPN at the enterprise. These options are available as additional software for an existing firewall to dedicated VPN concentrators, and are priced from the low hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. Regardless of the VPN technology you choose, you'll need to determine user demand to decide if the extra hardware expense is necessary.

There are several varieties of VPN protocols -- IPsec, PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol), L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) and SSL. Each can be the most affordable choice in a given situation.

IPsec, a Layer 3 protocol, is used as an encryption method (in conjunction with PPTP or L2TP) and as the VPN protocol. IPsec is often used to create VPNs between offices. Many VPN concentrators and firewalls, including those from Cisco Systems, Check Point Software Technologies, Microsoft, NetScreen Technologies (acquired by Juniper Networks in April), SonicWall, Symantec and WatchGuard Technologies, support IPsec as a terminated VPN method.

needs vs. wants

Basic Features to Look For:

• Compatibility with your protocols
• Minimal network reconfiguration
• Adequate security

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