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Executive Editor

F5 offers upgrade for its SSL gear; checks remote machines for security

May 27, 20042 mins
NetworkingRemote AccessSecurity

* F5 announcing support for Linux, Mac OS as well as Windows

F5 Networks is announcing support for operating systems other than Microsoft Windows with an upgrade offer for its FirePass Secure Sockets Layer remote access gear.

FirePass 5.0 supports Linux and Macintosh operating systems and enables full network access to applications as long as the remote machine downloads a Java applet that facilitates the connection. The remote machines must have NetScape, Mozilla or Apple Safari browsers in order to work with the FirePass.

The upgrade makes it possible for machines with any of the three operating systems – Windows, Linux or Mac OS – to make remote connections through FirePass appliances.

F5 is also introducing a limited check of remote machines to make sure they have certain security configurations in place before admitting them to network resources. The new software supports checking for the right McAfee anti-virus updates as well as for Windows patches before establishing an SSL link with the remote machine. Even if the remote computer fails the check, FirePass can be configured to allow the device to connect but with reduced access privileges. The remote device can also be redirected to a server where it can download updates that will bring it into compliance.

For Windows 2000 and Windows XP machines, FirePass will now allow secure split tunneling. This means the remote machine can browse the Internet at the same time it is connected via SSL to the corporate network. Each connection is quarantined from the other to block the possibility that the browsing link can be used to take over the SSL connection and compromise corporate data.

The company is also introducing a virtual desktop for remote machines. With it, a secure, partitioned workspace is set up on the remote computer where all SSL remote access business is transacted. When the session is over, the virtual desktop is wiped out, preventing later users of the machines from finding any data that may have been downloaded during the SSL session.

These and other additions to the FirePass platform add features that some other vendors already had and some that are unique to F5. Note the changes when evaluating SSL remote access options.