NCP's Virtual Private Network for Android Makes BYOD More Secure

REVIEW: eWEEK tried out NCP's Secure Enterprise VPN Client for Android, a new entry in the space of VPN clients for mobile devices.

Today, a growing number of companies are making use of virtualization and private clouds. But along with such technologies comes business employees' growing use of personal mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets to access corporate networks.

As much as companies might want to try to keep the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend out of their offices and networks, the fact is that they are a reality and they are here to stay. If companies tell their employees not to use them, the employees probably will anyway.

For example, if the company has a POP3 mail server, then the phones can be configured to access it. Employees will naturally access it with or without corporate permission. The solution, then, is not to forbid BYOD, but rather embrace it, and implement security measures to keep it safe and secure.

One such security measure is virtual private networks, which have been used for years through VPN servers in the main IT center and VPN clients installed on PCs, laptops and notebooks. VPNs are especially important for employees who work from home or who travel a lot. A VPN client installed on a laptop helps traveling employees stay securely connected to the office network.

But what about the recent BYOD excitement? eWEEK tried out a new entry in the space of VPN clients for mobile devices—NCP Network Communications' Secure Enterprise VPN Client for Android.

NCP offers different editions of the VPN Client for Android, with the difference being how licenses are managed. If you download it directly from the play store, you can get a full version for $29.90 or a smaller version with fewer features for $9 (although the price has changed from $9 to only $3.35 at the time of this writing, which proved to be a good deal).

Like most Android apps, the installation is a snap. I first downloaded the trial version from NCP's Website, and then downloaded the full version from the Play Store. Right away, I was able to try it out by connecting to NCP's test server. Once that worked, I connected to my own VPN server, which is an OpenBSD server. I also tried it with a Cisco server. In all cases, it worked well.

I have spent a lot of time using Android devices in recent years, and what struck me as particularly interesting is that your phone doesn't need to be rooted. Rather, Android supports the networking tasks that this VPN client requires. That's a huge plus.