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Nokia launches first phone-based VPN

Nokia's 9210i communicator adds secure connections to mobile telephony for the first time, a must for many corporate users
Written by Matt Loney, Contributor
In an effort to address shortcomings with security of mobile phone technologies, Nokia has added a virtual private network client to the latest revision of its Communicator smartphone, which was launched at the CeBIT show in Hannover this week. The Communicator 9210i has a number of additions that were not on previous models, including support for JavaScript and cascading style sheets, Macromedia Flash 5, and the VPN client. Bob Grace, global vice president for Nokia Internet Communications, said the VPN client was developed in house by Nokia's network security division to address inherent weaknesses in mobile security. "Even though phones such as the 9210i are on a circuit-switched network," said Grace, "when data leaves a phone it is open to attack as it travels across the Internet. This is a problem with something like the 9210i where more and more people are using it to access corporate applications such as SAP or Lotus Notes." One customer, said Grace, has already ordered 1,000 of the new Communicators for a medical application. "They wanted to make sure all information travelling between the doctors and the servers is encrypted." The VPN client should address such shortcomings, and it makes the 9210i one of the first handheld devices to enable end-to-end encrypted links. "You can get VPN clients for Palm," said Grace, "but those devices don't have the power to run 3DES." 3DES is an encryption protocol. In addition to 3DES, Nokia's VPN client will also support Nokia's own Challenge Response Authentication Cryptographic Key (Crack) encryption, which is currently before the IETF standards body. Grace said the reason for including Crack support is that it supports legacy authentication schemes. Grace said the VPN client should work on other Symbian devices too. "But you will need to have a tool that can deploy policies and certificates to the clients on your network," he added.
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