Ravlin 10 automatically encrypts data traveling over public networks

If you operate a WAN using circuits provided by your local telephone company but are nervous about data security, or if you work with highly confidential data (e.g., legal records, medical data, or other information ripe for electronic espionage), you need Ravlin 10 from RedCreek Communications. Ravlin 10 is a device you can install on your network to encrypt and decrypt traffic over your WAN links. You must place a unit at each site where you want to send or receive encrypted information.

The units use full 56-bit Data Encryption Standard (DES) and 112/168-bit triple DES encryption to ensure data privacy. For authentication and access control, the units use the Digital Signature Standard (DSS) and X.509 digital certificates. Even with all the encryption and decryption activity, the units maintain a full 10Mbps throughput using RedCreek's CryptoCore technology.

Setting It Up
Ravlin 10 I tested two Ravlin units over a multisite private frame relay network. Installing the units was easy, and despite the 30 minute drive between sites, I was up and running in no time. The Ravlin unit installs between your router and your LAN (or between the router and firewall if you have a firewall between your router and LAN). Connecting the unit is simple: Unplug your LAN or firewall from the router, and connect the LAN or firewall to the Ravlin's local port. Using a supplied crossover cable, connect the Ravlin's remote port to your router. If you use a network connection medium other than 10Base-T, you must provide your own cabling.

By default, the Ravlin 10 uses Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to obtain an IP address from your DHCP server. My test environment did not employ DHCP, so I had to configure IP addresses manually. You can easily accomplish this task using the Ravlin's front control panel, which takes you to the IP address screen where you can enter an IP address and subnet mask for each unit.

The control panel is also important in configuring the unit to use secure communication with other Ravlin units on your network. From the panel's main menu, you must select Remote config/status; then, you can select Add remote unit using the arrow keys. On the bottom of each unit is a 12-digit security ID, which you must enter for each remote Ravlin unit on your network that you intend to communicate with using the local unit.

Letting It Go
After setting all the parameters and installing the units on your network, you can begin using them. Once you configure the units to securely talk to one another, they begin exchanging encrypted packets over your network. The LCD display on the front of each unit shows the number of packets encrypted and decrypted, so you can easily monitor the number of encrypted packets sent and received.

Sites without Ravlin units and with non-IP traffic pose no problems. The Ravlin unit simply ignores any non-IP traffic on your network; the data passes without modification through the Ravlin to your router. All IP-related traffic for sites without Ravlin units passes in the clear, meaning the data is not encrypted or decrypted. Selectively implementing encryption only for sites requiring the highest degree of data security saves you money.

Although the price of the Ravlin 10 might seem excessive, you need to consider the value of your data in the wrong hands. For data security and peace of mind, the cost is a small price to pay.

Ravlin 10
Contact: RedCreek Communications * 510-745-3900, Web: http://www.redcreek.com
Price: $3500
System Configuration: Two 10Base-T or AUI Ethernet ports per device 10Mbps Ethernet throughput