Security on a stick guards British diplomatic business

When it comes to security, the British government's Consulate-General in New York, part of the United Kingdom's diplomatic mission for business and visa-related activities, is taking no chances on spies or other intruders sneaking onto its network.

This U.K. diplomatic office for visa-issuing operations and trade affairs allows dozens of its employees to gain remote access to the consulate's network from any computer they want, a boon for those checking in from home or on the road. But no one gets network access unless they're using a USB token for security called Trusted Client, made by BeCrypt, which basically acts like a self-contained operating system and secured desktop environment.

"It revolutionized our working practices," says Brian McIntyre, senior systems administrator at the British Consulate-General in New York, about the small USB token supporting thin-client Citrix desktop application, a Juniper VPN and more that's encrypted. The security on a stick was integral to granting employees more flexibility in their jobs because it mitigates risks associated with remote access.

The BeCrypt token, in use at the New York consulate for about two years, is also used at other parts of the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth office, including the U.K. Mission to the United Nations, McIntyre says.

The security procedure requires authentication after booting up with the USB token, which is a hardened Linux Ubuntu operating system that effectively provides an isolated working environment from malware and hacker threats, says McIntyre."Basically, I will load onto it whatever the user needs," McIntyre notes about the USB token, which he says shields the user from any "contamination" there might be on the unmanaged computer in use. "A software-based keylogger wouldn't execute with this."

While this isn't the only security at the consulate's office -- some aren't for public discussion -- the USB token fits neatly into the workplace there because it permits varying levels of controls be placed on what each user can do inside the network. It supports a "multitude of roles," McIntyre says, depending on each employee's responsibilities

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