Nokia Moves Deeper Into Security

The wireless giant is working on ways to lock down WLANs and mobile terminals.

Nokia Corp. is planning to move deeper into the security market next year, with products designed to help secure wireless LANs and mobile terminals playing a prominent role in the strategy.

The company, based in Espoo, Finland, is working with longtime partner, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., on ways to lock down WLANs, which are notoriously porous and therefore attract a lot of attention from crackers. One avenue the companies are exploring is the use of a clientless, SSL-based VPN to secure WLAN connections.

Security-conscious enterprises have been using traditional IPSec-based VPNs to enhance the security of their wireless networks for some time. But the cost and hassle of deploying hundreds or thousands of VPN clients has scared some companies away.

"Wireless LANs are truly business enablers, but the lack of security is blocking their growth," said Dan MacDonald, vice president of product management at Nokia. "Were working hard on ways to improve this in a clientless way. [An SSL-based VPN] would be one way to secure the connection."

In a related move, Nokia and IBM on Tuesday announced that IBM Global Services will offer Nokias Mobile VPN solution for handsets to its clients. IBM also will act as a systems integrator for the solution, which is designed for the Symbian operating system.

Although Nokia is best known for its wireless handsets and other mobile technologies, the companys Nokia Internet Communications division in Mountain View, Calif., has been quietly amassing a large portfolio of security products. Through partnerships with Check Point, Trend Micro Inc., Internet Security Systems Inc. and F5 Networks Inc., the division has developed a line of security solutions that include firewalls, VPNs, intrusion prevention and secure content management products, among others.

Nokia is also working on a way to make is easier for users to access all of their personal resources from a WLAN connection. Many companies have separate WLANs in each office, or even several in a given location, and users who travel among locations have a difficult time accessing their network resources. Nokias technology would function much like a corporate directory, in that it would store a users profile, including permissions and access rights. Whenever a user connected to a corporate WLAN, it would be completely seamless and as simple as plugging in to a wired network.

"Each user would have their own profile, and theyd simply connect to the network and everything else would be magic in the background," MacDonald said.