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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume VI, Issue 11||November 2003|
What is a VPN (Virtual Private Network)? How is it used?
Many State of Maine employees require computer access from locations outside the State’s WAN (Wide Area Network). These may include field workers (wildlife biologists or highway engineers), employees conducting state business from an out of state location, or those who need access to the State’s computer resources from their home. Many have asked the Customer Support Center what WAN access methods are available to them and more importantly, which method best fits their needs.
The State offers two options for its employees to remotely access their on-line files: VPN (Virtual Private Network) and IPRS (Internet Protocol Routing Services). Both products enable users to access state computer data and resources which are secured by the State’s firewall. The difference lies in who provides this service.
With IPRS, the Bureau of Information Services acts as the ISP (Internet Service Provider). IPRS offers a direct connection to the State’s Wide Area Network, allowing users to tap into computer resources through a dial up networking connection using a phone line. Alternatively, VPN is for those who already have a contracted ISP (for example America On-line) for use on their privately owned PC’s. VPN allows a high speed connection to the State’s WAN, which is only limited by the type of connection that your ISP provides. If the ISP only offers a “dial up” connection, users are faced with the same speed limitations (usually 56K) that IPRS offers. Usually, ISPs offer high speed cable connections which are much faster to connect, and present data.
Regardless of the access method (IPRS or VPN), State users cannot access their data unless they are assigned a Securid card. The Securid card has a six digit display that changes its code every sixty seconds. This code, along with the four digit pin number that is assigned to the card is the vehicle into the States’ networked computer system.
In order to obtain a Securid card, employees need to contact their agency’s IT manager, because each agency is billed monthly for Securid cards. After agency approval, requests for new Securid cards should be made by calling BIS Security Card coordinator, Ron Grimard at 624-8876.
See also two article printed in this publication by Chad Perkins: Firewalls
What They Are and Why We Need Them
http://www.maine.gov/newsletter/oct99/internet_firewalls.htm and An
Internet Firewall Update