Columbitech Beefs up wVPN for Telephony

Sweedish vendor announces update of its wireless security and persistence product to make for flexible, reliable wVoIP.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted May 2, 2005
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Columbitech AB, headquartered Stockholm, Sweeden, has for several years marketed Wireless VPN, a high-performance wireless security product, designed to protect the privacy and integrity of data transferred over Wi-Fi and other wireless network connections.

Up to now, deployments typically involved data communications between the enterprise and handheld computers or PDAs in the field—often via public wireless connections. Today, however, Columbitech announced some new features aimed squarely at adapting the system for wireless VoIP. The company will be demonstrating the newly voice-adapted system later this week at N+I.

"It's a framework," said Tobias Englund, Columbitech's VP of Technology. "It's very secure," he said, "and it doesn't interfere with other protocols." "In essence," said Englund, "we've fine-tuned the product for telephony."

The core of the Wireless VPN system is FIPS 140-2 certified strong encryption (AES with encryption keys up to 256 bits) melded with strong authentication via multiple techniques such as PKI and smartcards, and including exotics like biometric ID. Also built in are firewall features and session persistence.

Persistence is an important adaptation to the inherent unreliability of wireless connections especially in public venues. For users, this means that, once established, a call will not be cut off because of a disruption of network coverage, like poor WLAN signal strength. With WVPN, users can resume and continue a call. Incidentally, this not works over multiple wireless types, including 3G and all flavors of Wi-Fi, it also facilitates seamless handoffs between such connections.

Other features that support smooth roaming include TCP connection multiplexing -- which makes sure redundant TCT transmissions do not crowd out data packets during handover and improved flow control and other signaling mechanisms to help cope with drastic changes in available bandwidth when moving between Wi-Fi and GPRS.

"Data and voice convergence is compelling from an application point of view, but challenging from a security point of view, said Columbitech president, Asa Holmstrom. "The same security threatsthat enterprises have faced regarding data are now also a reality for voice," he continued. VoIP networks are subject to a number of security vulnerabilities, such as virus attacks on IP PBXs, theft of services, and evesdropping.

The company claims to have sold a quarter of a million client licenses, and roughly 4,500 server licenses to date.

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