Software scans endpoints for protections

* Panda Software’s VPNSecure

Many VPN vendors make their own software to check that remote computers meet corporate security profiles before they are allowed access to the VPN. This is a sound practice, but there are some vendors who don't, and if you are a customer of one of these, you might want to consider a new offering from Panda Software.

Panda’s VPNSecure software runs on computers to scan them for anti-virus software, a firewall and whether they are running processes that indicate a worm or other malware is at work. If the machines flunk, they don't get access until they pass.

Panda's software blocks suspected malicious processes on a machine, so even if it is infected with a worm, for example, the machine might gain entrance to the VPN once VPNSecure has blocked the worm.

This is a natural extension of what Panda already does, namely sell security software that is “anti” just about everything - virus, spam, spyware, phishing. Now it reports on whether these protections are guarding potential VPN endpoints.

Panda also addresses another issue that doesn't get a lot of attention: split tunneling. That's when a remote computer accesses a VPN and at the same time maintains a connection to the Internet at large. The perceived danger here is that the machine is open to takeover by another Internet-connected device while it is linked to the corporate network, thereby leaving the whole network vulnerable.

It's debatable how much of a threat this actually poses, but the ability to turn split tunneling on and off is a feature of many IPSec VPN clients. Having it as part of VPNSecure can extend this feature to SSL VPN endpoints, which can operate with standard Web browsers and without dedicated VPN software to block split tunneling.

For those interested in giving this new product a try, prices are determined by how many end users are being protected. A 26-user license costs $1,100 for a year. Price per license drops with longer contracts and more end users.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.