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Managed remote access options

A new breed of options exist for companies that want to outsource remote access to their networks.

Large companies with a need for remote access to their networks have an increasing number of options from which they can choose when deploying such systems for workers (and sometimes even contractors) working from home or on the road. While some outfits may increase their populations of IPSec VPN users (an entirely viable and reasonably secure option), or invest in SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) VPN technologies, many choose to let users manage their own remote PC control services such a PCAnywhere, Virtual Network Computing, or Citrix' GoToMyPC.

For many companies, however, a managed service is the only way to maintain proper levels of security, be it to meet internal security policy requirements or to comply with governing rules, regulations and best practices.

Traditionally, there's been a profound trade-off between ease of installation and use on the one hand, and cost on the other. The cheap and easy solutions offer little or no security and no centralized management and control capabilities. The more secure, controllable options are also more expensive and more difficult to use.

A new generation of remote access tools is in the process of changing this dynamic. For example, 3am Labs offers a family of free and commercial implementations of its LogMeIn service. These products permit uses to access their desktop PCs from any Web-enabled PC, PDA, or mobile phone. Connections are encrypted using SSL; they also integrate with and comply to Windows authentication and security policies. Thus, in environments where RSA SecureID may be required for authentication, remote users must supply the proper token device to gain remote access, as well as meeting other stipulated challenges with the proper responses needed to log in. Environments that require one-time passwords for wireless login likewise apply these criteria for remote access.

The LogMeIn services work with a free management tool known as LogMeIn Scout, which finds all remote access products deployed on a network. It also permits LogMeIn usage policies to be defined for specific users, groups of users, or machines. The tool also enables remote access, upload/download and administrative rights to be granted or restricted on the same basis.

This tool is very much on par with the corporate, centrally managed version of Citrix' GoToMyPC as well. The for-a-fee version of LogMeIn adds all kinds of conveniences, including remote-local file synchronization, an FTP-like file transfer tool, and a "click-to-share" feature to permit Web-based file sharing. It also permits files on the remote side of the connection to be printed locally. With over 1,000,000 users who've registered to take advantage of this capability, it's obvious that many individuals and organizations have found LogMeIn to be a useful and secure remote access toolset.

Ed Tittel is a regular contributor to numerous TechTarget Web sites, and the author of over 100 books on a wide range of computing subjects from markup languages to information security. He's also a contributing editor for Certification Magazine and edits Que Publishing's Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide series of cert prep books. E-mail Ed at
This was last published in November 2007

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