CenturyLink debuts adaptive security platform, plays to mobile, remote workforce

Security lock on computer data
CenturyLink sets new security service standard for itself with its Adaptive Network Security service. (Getty/gintas77)

CenturyLink has responded to the mobile workforce and bring your own device trends with its new Adaptive Network Security Mobility service, making it the standard security product for the new company formed after completing its acquisition of Level 3.

The service allows businesses’ remote users to securely connect to internet and private network resources without introducing cyberrisks associated with using personal devices and unsecured Wi-Fi.

Businesses will get access to secure, remote VPN access to corporate networks via IPSec or SSL-based internet connections and a standard web browser, offering end-to-end encryption and tunneling.

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Enterprises can purchase concurrent use sessions based on the anticipated number of users at any given time, rather than purchasing individual licenses for each mobile user.

Regardless if employees connect with a laptop, tablet or smartphone, businesses maintain centralized authentication, user role-mapping, resource policies and sign-in policies while enabling remote connectivity. Adaptive Network Security is carrier agnostic, allowing customers to protect internet connections with CenturyLink, hybrid environments and third-party networks.

Residing in the CenturyLink backbone, the product is a next-generation firewall service designed to replace premise equipment. Customers can connect to the security gateway through a private VPN circuit or through a third-party internet connection that the service provider can establish an IP Sec tunnel over.

CenturyLink

But this is not a science experiment solution. Having been in beta trials for eight months, the service has been connected to 8,000 endpoints. 

Adaptive Network Security is one of several elements that CenturyLink gained from its acquisition of Level 3 Communications.

Chris Richter, VP of global security services for CenturyLink, told FierceTelecom that the carrier agnostic nature of the service makes it broadly applicable to a larger group of business customers.

“Our philosophy and security controls are network-based and network agnostic so we can offer the service to anybody,” Richter said. “The requirement is you have to be an Adaptive Network Security customer, meaning you have to have one gateway.”

As part of that network agnostic mentality, Adaptive Network Security can also work with CenturyLink’s SD-WAN or a third party’s MPLS connection.

“Adaptive Network Security Mobility works seamlessly with our SD-WAN service and it is also SD-WAN agnostic,” Richter said. “Many customers will use an SD-WAN service in conjunction with an MPLS circuit from one of our competitors, but with SD-WAN you have MPLS on one arm and an internet connection on the other arm so you still need to have robust security.”

Mobile, remote threats accelerate

A big focus of the adaptive security platform service is playing into the mobile user.

The service provider has developed a method to extend the gateway capabilities to wireless devices that corporate users leverage to access their business networks.

“What the mobility offering does is it extends the gateway protection to mobile users,” Richter said. “We do that by applying a client to the customer’s endpoints whether those are either Android or Apple devices that their administrators can configure the clients that they connect directly to the gateways.”

Additionally, the service integrates with a business’ active directories and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)-based systems so the authorization policies follow an employee. These features are synchronized at the gateway.

“If you’re blocked from accessing Facebook from a corporate device sitting at your desk in the office when you’re sitting at a Starbucks in Hong Kong, the same policy is going to apply to you there,” Richter said.

CenturyLink’s instincts about mobile workers are on track. According to Strategy Analytics, the global mobile workforce will encompass around 1.75 billion in 2020, or about 42% of the global workforce.

Over the past 10 years, statistics from the Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs show that  the U.S. population of telecommuting workers grew 115% to nearly four million.

At the same time, CenturyLink can also help businesses stay ahead of key reinstallation attacks (KRACKs) to exploit vulnerabilities in modern Wi-Fi networks’ most common security protocol (WPA2) is the latest example of public Wi-Fi insecurity.

Global focus

Customers can access Adaptive Network Security through a series of global security gateways distributed across four main regions: Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa and North America.  

Each of these gateways are all interconnected via CenturyLink’s global VPN backbone.

Later this year, CenturyLink will offer Adaptive Network Security in South America.

“In the next few months when we roll out our security gateways in South America, the service will roll out there as well,” Richter said. “That’s slated for the first half of this year.”