MCI Strengthens Remote-Access Security, Launches Managed IP-VPN Service

In two separate moves this week, the Ashburn, Va.-based carrier strengthened its remote-access security offerings for mobile and remote users, and teamed with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN firm Aventail to roll out a new managed remote access IP-VPN product suite.

The remote-access upgrades include features such as network antifraud protection, secure authentication and enhanced Denial of Service (DoS) support; the new SSL VPN product incorporates a fully managed remote-access service for enterprise customers interested in IP-VPNs.

Both services were expected to be available to channel partners immediately.

According to Nancy Gofus, a senior vice president at MCI, the remote-access offering was designed to provide traveling and remote workers with simpler, more secure access to corporate resources.

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"There is no question that security is of paramount concern for businesses of all sizes in every region around the world," she said. "[MCI's] new features deliver secure network connections from an individual's desktop all the way through the network."

In particular, Gofus emphasized three distinct components of the new remote-access offering: the antifraud protection, DoS Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and secure authentication. She said the last of these components--the authentication piece--will incorporate the industry-standard Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) by the fall.

The technology will enable unique security features, including the ability to scramble user passwords before they cross the network so they are not visible in their original forms. EAP will be directly assimilated into the MCI global IP network, Gofus said.

Under the partnership with Aventail, MCI will integrate SSL technology from the Seattle-based vendor into a new managed remote IP-VPN solution to enable users to connect to corporate resources from anywhere with computing devices such as PDAs, kiosks, home PCs and laptops. Jim DeMerlis, MCI vice president of data and IP solutions, said the effort will offer greater flexibility and enhanced security for organizations that want to connect users for less.

"MCI's agreement with Aventail allows customers to tap into an alternate, yet complementary VPN technology that delivers industry-leading security and access control," he said. "We are delivering a secure solution that is easy to implement internally and externally across multiple types of users."

According to DeMerlis, the joint SSL IP-VPN solution will integrate with MCI's existing complete desktop remote-access platforms, enabling businesses to designate and control access at the application layer, as well as support a broad set of individual access requirements and authentication methods.

Because the technology is clientless, customers do not need to install software on their computing devices, DeMerlis said.