Check Point, Novell secure corporate PDAs

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. is extending its VPN (virtual private network) security tools to PDAs (personal digital assistants), with the launch of a version of its VPN-1 SecureClient for Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 and Handheld PC 2002 PDAs.

The Check Point software package combines a personal firewall, secure remote access and centralized management functions, and will run on Pocket PC devices from Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), and handheld devices from HP, Check Point’s Vice-President of Global Marketing Carol Stone said at a news conference in Hanover, Germany, at the CeBIT trade show Thursday.

Check Point’s announcement comes a day after Novell Inc. announced a version of its Zenworks management software for handheld devices and an upgrade to its iFolder synchronization tool that allows handheld devices to access files over the Web.

The PDA is now more than just an address book, and is taking on a more important role in the enterprise, according to Check Point’s Stone. “You are now storing more and more important corporate data on your PDA, and it needs protection,” she said.

VPN-1 Secure Client allows users to set up a secure connection through their corporate firewall, Redwood City, Calif.-based Check Point said. The software also enables IS staff to remotely manage software configurations over an encrypted connection, and to send out updates from a central site – but so far the only handhelds which can be managed in this way are those running software based on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows CE operating system.

“We don’t see demand for (a version for) Palm OS yet,” Stone said.

Check Point’s U.K. Business Development Manager, Raymond Kruck, said the company is working with mobile-phone maker Nokia Corp., a long-term partner on other projects, to develop a version for the Symbian operating system that is used in handheld devices from Nokia and from L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co.

“That’s probably the next step for us. Palm is mainly a consumer platform,” Kruck said.

The company did not announce pricing or shipping dates for the software.

Microsoft Mobility Group Manager Adam Anger, also present at the news conference, said the need for software such as Check Point’s personal firewall is “becoming critical because you are starting to get products with built-in wireless access.”

The latest edition of Microsoft’s operating system for desktop PCs includes firewall functions, but its Pocket PC 2002 software for handhelds, which was released to manufacturers before XP, does not, Anger said.

But this will change: “You can guarantee that the ultimate in security will be built into every Windows client device, including Pocket PCs” before long, he said. He would not say whether a future firewall for Pocket PCs would be built in-house or bought in.

On Wednesday, Provo, Utah-based Novell announced updated versions of its Zenworks client management tool and its iFolder file management software.

Novell ZenWorks for Handhelds 4.7 will allow IS managers to manage and update applications from a central point on devices running Palm OS, Windows CE and Pocket PC software. The update will be available from March 15, initially for US$49 per user and later for US$59, according to a Novell statement.

Novell also announced an update of its file-synchronization software, to iFolder Professional Edition 2. Novell is targeting service providers with the new version’s ability to support millions of users by presenting multiple servers as a single-system image. A billing and reporting system tracks which departments or subscribers are using the system. In addition, iFolder Professional Edition 2 will allow users of handheld devices running Palm OS, Pocket PC or Windows CE to access their files using a Web browser.

iFolder Professional Edition 2 now offers support for Linux and Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Solaris operating systems, in addition to existing support for Novell NetWare and Microsoft’s Windows NT/2000, Novell said.

In contrast to Check Point, Novell has seen demand from corporate users for Palm OS support. “We support the devices that are in the marketplace,” said Brian Green, Novell’s director of product marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The new version, for NetWare 5.1 or 6, and Windows NT or 2000, goes on sale April 17 for US$49 per user, or US$1.50 per user per month for the hosted version.