F5 adds support for iPhones over its SSL VPN tunnels

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from Network World.

F5 Networks has issued a new version of its FirePass software so it can apply group access policies to mobile devices as the log-in to SSL VPNs.

The updated software for the F5 FirePass SSL VPN appliances imposes policies on devices as users establish VPN tunnels to corporate sites protected by FirePass gateways.

The policies are based on eight preset policy templates designed to meet specific needs. Some of them help meet regulatory security standards such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Payment Card Industry standard and the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act, for instance, and include other templates for more general business needs.

Customers can also design their own policy templates that the F5 gear will enforce, but that requires using Endpoint Policy Manager made by FullArmor, which they would have to buy separately, F5 says.

Users’ network access rights would be dependent on whether they accept the access policy being pushed to them. If they reject the policy, they might be granted minimal access or rejected altogether. The software only works with Windows XP or Vista machines because it relies on Microsoft application programming interfaces to enforce the policies.

The software also supports iPhone synchronization with Exchange servers so users can update their e-mail and calendars directly while they are connected to the corporate network via a FirePass VPN tunnel. Previously, FirePass users could access only Web versions of calendars and e-mails.

F5 has also optimized the reverse proxy engine within FirePass so it can handle more than 3,000 transactions per second, up from 250 transactions per second, the company says. An example of a transaction would be opening a TCP session, synchronizing with a back-end server and closing the session, the company says.

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