Vendors seek to extend IPSec standard

IBM and virtual private network vendor Ashley Laurent announced last week they plan to propose extending the IP Security (IPSec) protocol.

The proposed extension would integrate Network Address Translation (NAT) with IPSec, and would allow remote employees and trusted corporate partners to use a set of private IP addresses when communicating with an organisation's headquarters, officials said.

Ashley Laurent's VPCom Server can assign trusted users a virtual IP address from a block of private addresses. Using these addresses, users can directly access other remote users and Windows NT server resources as if they are on the LAN (local area network), according to Ashley Laurent. In addition, NAT allows routers to recognise these users and direct their traffic to the VPCom server, reducing demands on a general-purpose firewall.

IBM is preparing a request for comment to present to the IPSec group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Jeffrey Goodwin, president of Ashley Laurent, said the IPSec proposal will probably be submitted in the next few weeks and could be adopted as early as an IETF meeting this fall.

"We think it has all the fundamentals to move through quickly," Goodwin said. The proposal has received interest from Cisco Systems, WatchGuard Technologies, and other vendors he added.

IPSec defines common ways to authenticate users and encrypt traffic, allowing for automatic setup of secured sessions between users with IPSec-compliant hardware and software.

The proposed extension is designed to make it easier to set up intranets among a company's widely dispersed users, or extranets comprised of trusted partner organisations.

Goodwin said Ashley Laurent is working with IBM to integrate its VPCom server capabilities into the AS/400, OS390, and RS/6000 server architectures to help secure commerce and other functions over IP networks. Currently, IBM recommends VPCom as a complement to IBM's eNetwork firewall.

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