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iPass provides ATF agents reliable, secure wireless access

In 2006, the United State's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began looking for a way to slash the time required to establish reliable, secure field communications. After considering several wireless options, the agency settled on the iPassConnect Universal Client.

In 2006, the United State's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began looking for a way to slash the time required to establish reliable, secure field communications. After considering several wireless options, the agency settled on the iPassConnect Universal Client.

According to a September 17, 2007 NetworkWorld article, the ATF issues agents a laptop, wireless access card and the iPassConnect Universal Client. When an agent initiates a remote connection, the system searches the surrounding area for available wireless networks and automatically chooses the best one. The system can use Wi-Fi hotspots and a range of wireless WANs that provide high-speed data connections, including GPRS, UMTS, EDGE, EV-DO Rev A, EV-DO Rev 0 and 1xRTT.

"It automatically finds all the potential connections out there and can tell you which ones are the strongest," said William (Larry) Bell, deputy assistant director and deputy CIO with ATF, "If you just leave it alone, it will automatically connect to the strongest one, and the agent doesn't have to do anything."

The iPass software also offers excellent security. According to the NetworkWorld article, the software creates an encrypted one-time ASCII password based on the agent's "original user credentials, a unique service interface ID and an incrementing session counter". The encrypted password then travels across the wireless carrier's network through a "128-bit SSL tunnel to the iPass network". iPass then passes the session to the ATF's internal network.

According to Bell, productivity has risen by 20 percent as a result of the new system. "Everybody who's working on a case can now be a part of the same community of interest and can collaborate and share information right away via the portal," the article quoted Bell, "Agents can literally use the systems here in the data center and never leave their cars."

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