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Digital certificates for the mainstream

Joining a crowded field, RSA Data debuts products designed to push digital certificates into mainstream use.

    SAN JOSE, California--Jumping into an already-crowded market, RSA Data Security and its parent Security Dynamics today outlined new products designed to push digital certificates into mainstream use.

    Called Keon, the joint RSA and Security Dynamics initiative puts new pressure on no fewer than a dozen companies pushing digital IDs with announcements at RSA's annual conference here, the computer security industry's largest event.

    Keon is a family of products, called a public key infrastructure or PKI, for issuing, renewing, revoking, and managing digital IDs within a company. The PKI offerings include a certificate server, used by a certificate authority (CA) to issue certificates, toolkits, and an overall PKI framework that can be embedded in computer applications. The products are designed for enterprise customers, software developers, and equipment manufacturers that can use the new RSA technology in their own products.

    "This is all about e-commerce--it's driving what's happening here," RSA president Jim Bidzos said, adding that cryptography has been a technology searching for a problem to solve. "E-commerce is that problem."

    Even so, RSA's new public key infrastructure offerings may not be great news for the myriad other PKI vendors, although RSA senior vice president Scott Schnell insists that his company is not competing with its customers.

    Schnell said the Keon products, although only announced today, have been shipping for months and generated $10 million in revenue last year.

    "We can provide the missing link that application and services vendors like E*Trade need," Schnell said, estimating that 95 percent of RSA customers would find the new product line beneficial. "But we are going to compete with Entrust. We have things shipping now that Entrust doesn't."

    Security Dynamics CEO Charles Stuckey said the Keon suite represents a full integration of offerings of both his company and the RSA subsidiary, which it acquired more than two years ago.

    RSA's PKI is based on software licensed from VeriSign, the biggest player in issuing digital IDs to consumers and a company RSA spun off several years ago.

    VeriSign's On-Site product, the piece RSA is using, lets VeriSign handle back-end aspects of managing and storing certificates while letting companies issue digital certs to their customers, employees, or partners.

    In addition to software tools for corporate developers and the certificate server, Keon components include a centralized management console for enterprise security systems, a desktop product for file encryption and managing a user's security credentials, and agents for protecting applications.

    RSA also announced new partnerships with Compaq Computer and Intel, which is slated later this week to discuss plans to embed security into its microprocessors.