Department of Defense launches new Linux for telecommuters

Why should the Department of Defense stay behind when the rest of the world is busy developing on the open source Linux platform?

Well good news is on the horizon for all telecommuters and Linux enthusiasts. The U.S.Department of Defense launched three brand-new, high-end, secure, Linux based distributions in a bid to help telecommuters with better protected Remote Control Software technology.

The new high end distributions are called Lightweight Portable Security (LPS). The DoD is targeting telecommuters who need to access corporate and government networks. Most telecommuters presently use less secure remote locations and risk a unauthorized access to a lot of data.

This is where the LPS Remote Desktop Software comes in as an add-on to the technology. True to its name, the LPS software creates a secure end node from any Intel based PC or Mac computers. The LPS was created under the Software Protection Initiative and jointly produced by the Air Force Research Laboratory along with the DoD.

The software can work by booting a thin Linux OS from a CD or pen drive without any need for local or external hard drives. There are no installations or admin rights needed to make it work. This greatly increases convenience, as all that is necessary is to have a functioning a computer which can boot from a CD, DVD or a USB flash drive.

Currently the three versions available are the LPS-Public, the LPS-Public Deluxe and the LPS-Remote Access. The public version is a solution for web apps while the deluxe provides OpenOffice and Adobe reader software add-ons. The third version LPS-RA is a competition to popular Remote Access.

However LPS-RA is only available on request and meant for corporate and private networks. The LPS Public versions comes with a smart card enabled Firefox browser which supports Common Access Card (CAC) & Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards, PDF and text views, Java and Encryption wizard. The LPS add-ons can essentially transform a unsecure network such as Home or Hotel networks into a trusted network client, without having to make any changes to the network properties themselves.

Designed to run as read only, without storage, the LPS cannot be patched and is updated regularly. Malware can only run a single session and rebooting makes that avoidable. DoD recommends rebooting on sensitive connections such as when connecting to bank networks. LPS is considered a friend for remote workers, especially those who rely on PC based software which runs on the Linux OS.

As security is often a concern when using remote access tools, LPS is designed to alleviate security concerns. However, it is no substitute for common sense and as such users would still need to take precautions such as using secure passwords and not responding to requests for passwords or private information from unknown sources.

This was a guest article from Frank Taylor.

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