Home networking company Linksys is out with a new portable security adapter designed to improve network security for business travelers and mobile consumers.

The company has dubbed the product its first USB-VPN and firewall adapter, which is targeted at its core markets of small office/home office workers and telecommuters looking for improvements in security from wherever they log in to their business networks.

Linksys, which is now a division of Cisco Systems , calls the product USBVPN1, which suggests a Universal Serial Bus merged with a Virtual Private Network client.

The product is a portable USB to an Ethernet VPN adapter, which Linksys said uses the IPSec (IP Security) protocol for protecting private data over corporate broadband networks.

The new adapter connects to nearly any PC through its USB connection and does not require any external power supply, the company said. The adaptor wraps data transmissions in the 56-bit Data Encryption Standard (DES) or Triple-DES encryption for applications requiring additional security.

Linksys also said the applications the adapter supports include secure remote connections to a corporate network for telecommuters or roaming mobile workers.

The new Linksys adapter also comes with a Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) Firewall designed to protect the user's device against malicious attacks from hackers.

The USBVPN1 adapter supports Dynamic IP, Static IP, PPPoE , and PPTP network connection methods and can be used on any Ethernet Internet connection -- Cable, DSL, LAN, or a hotel's high-speed Internet connection.

The new product arrives as small businesses and consumers that have recently adopted always-on high speed Internet connections, but skipped the firewall additions, are becoming aware of their small office systems' vulnerability.

The USBVPN1 has an estimated street price of $79, making it affordable for several consumer and small business market segments.

Linksys said the multi-function device offers businesses, remote workers and business travelers a higher level of security for their connections to corporate or home LANs while they are on the road. All the user needs is an available USB port and a broadband connection.

Linksys, which makes more than 70 products for home networking, such as wireless routers and access points to share broadband Internet connections, wireless network adapters and wireless print servers, holds an estimated 30 percent to 40 percent share of the market for home networking hardware.