10 tips to secure client VPNs

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[View FULL Article] October 02, 2006 (Computerworld) -- If you have given your trusted employees and key contractors remote access to your network via a client virtual private network (VPN), congratulations! By now, you have seen the productivity and cost benefits from allowing collaboration that surmounts geographical separation.

You may also have discovered that keeping your network secure is now even trickier than it was, because each uncontrolled remote computer potentially creates another avenue of access to the network for attackers. Here are 10 tips to help secure your network while ensuring the benefits of your VPN.

1. Use the strongest possible authentication method for VPN access. Exactly what this is will depend on your network infrastructure, and you should check your VPN or operating system documentation to determine your options.

For example, on a network with Microsoft servers, the most secure authentication is provided by Extensible Authentication Protocol-Transport Level Security (EAP-TLS) used with smart cards. These require a public key infrastructure (PKI) and incur the overhead of encoding and distributing smart cards securely. On these networks, Microsoft Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol Version 2 (MS-CHAP v2) and Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) provide the next best authentication security.

Password Authentication Protocol (PAP), Shiva Password Authentication Protocol (SPAP) and Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) are too weak to be allowed.

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