Core Competence White Paper Prepared for   

Residential Broadband Access and the Teleworker:
Security Considerations for the IT Manager

The teleworker -- the employee who is expected to perform a majority of his or her work duties from a residence -- may be the fastest growing part of the corporate work force. For some enterprises, connectivity needs for the majority of its teleworkers may be accommodated using the same technology and security measures used for roaming and remote access. For others, the emergence of residential broadband services offers new opportunities for extending the corporate LAN to the residence-based employee. The high bandwidth, low latency, and "always connected" characteristics of services based on Digital Subscriber Loop or cable modem may allow teleworkers access to corporate LANs using NOS (Network Operating System) file, session, and printer services, including AppleTalk, Microsoft Network, and UNIX/NFS/X. These NOS services are generally impractical to use over traditional dialup services because of dialup's low bandwidth, high latency, and intermittent connectivity. Residential broadband services thus allow a qualitative difference in telelworker activities compared to dialup services, by enabling teleworkers to use the corporate network at home in the same way they do at the office.

The characteristics of residential broadband access services are similar to public, switched data services such as Frame Relay and SMDS, with one noteworthy exception. Most Frame Relay and SMDS connections terminate at remote offices or corporate locations, where some site security policy is typically enforced: employee identification is required, connectivity to the public Internet is restricted and protected by corporate firewalls, etc. Residential broadband services, as their names imply, most often terminate in the home of a corporate teleworker. Because of this difference, the characteristics that make residential broadband access attractive may also raise security concerns for some IT managers.

Why is residential broadband access to a corporate network so different from modem and ISDN dial access from a residence or hotel? Why are some IT managers cautious about bringing DSL or cable modem services into their enterprise? Are there ways to safely integrate residential broadband into an enterprise network? Is one residential broadband technology safer than the rest? Let's take a closer look...

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