ScanSafe and Pipex Business have chosen the same week to launch contrasting but innovative security services for UK businesses supporting mobile workers.

Pipex’s SecureMobile combines a banking-level authentication system for remote or mobile use with security filtering such as anti-virus, DDoS detection, intrusion detection, instant messaging control, and URL blocking.

The accent with this service is as much on protecting the core network as the mobile PC, in contrast to ScanSafe’s Anywhere+, which puts the emphasis on securing the client itself using a ‘split tunnelling’ design. The company claims this solves some of the latency issues associated with roaming security because it allows traffic to the corporate VPN to run as normal while security filtering happens directly across a separate and secure SSL connection.

Normally, companies wanting to run their own VPN, or running it over the VPN of a company other than their security filtering provider, would have to backhaul traffic through the VPN and out to the security provider, before running it back to the client via the same VPN. Inevitably, this is slow, which undermines mobile workers.

Scansafe’s Anywhere+ uses a software as a service (SaaS) model to apply a company’s security policies – filtering, reputation controls, malware scanning - to all web and email traffic, leaving the IT department to open VPN application ports for traffic to things such as databases separately.

“Businesses of all sizes identify remote and roaming workers as one of the biggest weaknesses in their corporate Web security,” said Dan Nadir of ScanSafe. “With Anywhere+ it is finally possible to protect remote users wherever they are working without introducing latency, increased support or other administrative headaches.”

A key feature of Pipex SecureMobile is its authentication system, which requires remote or mobile users to login with a 6-digit ‘token’ PIN, in addition to their usual user Id and password-PIN. This is supplied to a designated mobile phone each time the user requests a login, with the number expiring after one minute. It is unusual for remote access to offer such a system, more commonly associated with consumer banking.

"SecureMobile is perfect for organisations that want to deploy a mobile workforce but are worried about the impact that security lapses such as malware, phishing and denial of service attacks could have on their business," said Pipex’s Edmund Cartwright.

ScanSafe’s Anywhere+ requires client software, which restricts it to Windows XP and Vista with no clear commitment to extend this to mobile platforms such as Symbian. Costs were described as being in the order of £1 per user, per month, assuming the company was already a client of Scansafe’s fixed services. The PIN token system used by Pipex’s SecureMobile makes it superficially much more expensive, with costs around £10-£15 per user, per month expected.