Councils ditch VPN to start using G/On secure remote access

New CESG guidance and lower costs prompt investment in Excitor system


A coalition of English councils has started using Excitor’s bootable G/On 2FA secure USB token system to allow elected representatives and employees to securely access central applications from unmanaged PCs or Macs.

In what is the first use of the system by Britain’s public sector, CenSus partnership members - Adur & Worthing Councils, Horsham and Mid Sussex District Councils – will deploy the technology to 54 councillors to use at home with another 300 employees adopting it over time.

The tiny Excitor G/On token allows home workers to boot a separate and secure workspace after which authenticate themselves to use a range of applications, including Citrix, remote desktop, finance applications and web-based email. Importantly, no data leaves the host network or is stored on the G/On itself.

The motivation for councils to use such a system seems to have been guided by the need to drive down costs – it becomes possible for employees to use their own computers as unmanaged devices – as an alternative to the overheads of a managed laptop and conventional VPN.

Another important motivation was that G/On offered a simple and low-cost way for CenSus partners to meet the demands of the CESG’s Public Service Network guidance on remote working.

“During a one month trial, we provided tokens to a number of managers across all sites with varying work patterns, all found G/On reliable and extremely simple to use,” commented head of ICT for CenSus, John Ross. 

“The ease of the G/On deployment was demonstrated at Mid Sussex Council, where it took just three days to go from raising an order to successfully deploying the solution to fifty four elected members.

“There is considerable cost associated with providing company managed devices with VPN gateways, antivirus, antimalware software, certificate servers, token authentication servers, intrusion detection systems and the rest. G/On removes the need for that significant infrastructure complexity and cost.”

Although similar in principle to Microsoft’s Windows to Go, G/On had been built around a stripped-down version of Fedora Linux, confirmed Excitor’s Phil Stewart.

The company was talking to other organisations in the UK’s public sector, he said.

“Until we had the CESG guidance it was too much risk for people to deploy it. That has opened up the market.”

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