VPN clients for handheld devices

Mobile data entry applications often necessitate the use of secure connections. For example, the medical community, in an effort to comply with HIPPA regulations, must follow strict data privacy requirements. Thus any data transferred to or from a Palm or PocketPC device must be protected by a VPN.


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VPN clients for handhelds use PPTP to connect to a VPN server, which is used by many operating systems and commercial platforms. Various Windows server and Windows workstation OSs, Linux, and others support PPTP, as do Cisco, SnapGear, WatchGuard, and Netopia firewalls and appliances. One dedicated PPTP client is Mergic VPN for Palm OS, v. 1.1.

IPSec is of course the second common VPN protocol and that protocol is supported by movianVPN, which supports both Palm and Pocket PC 2002 devices.

A comparison of the Palm client devices, system requirements, and supported gateways are listed on PalmOne's VPN page. PalmOne actually ships VPNs based on the MergicVPN client on the Tungstun C and on the palmOne Wi-Fi Card that fits into the Tungsten T3 and Zire 72.

Some clients will support several protocols. For example Bluefire with support for IPSec, SSL VPN, Microsoft PPTP, L2TP, and V-One and can be installed on both handheld devices. The Bluefire client can also support wireless protocols such as 802.11, CDMA, and GPRS protocols. Among the clients that Bluefire can run on are Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 2003 Phone Edition, Pocket PC 2002, Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition, and the Palm 4.1 OS.

Among the VPN vendors with handheld clients of their own are Check Point Software's VPN-1 Secure ClientNow for Handhelds.

Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.


This was first published in January 2005

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