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VeriSign bundles authentication tools

Unified support for passwords, smart cards and tokens means better network security, the company says.

VeriSign introduced its latest package of authentication tools on Tuesday and said it will deliver a version of the product designed specifically for Microsoft's Windows later this year.

The package of security software and services, which incorporates elements of the company's VeriSign Intelligence products and ControlSM Services, provides a centralized system for supporting various forms of network authentication, including passwords, smart cards and USB tokens, according to the Mountain View, Calif.-based maker of network security software.

By letting customers integrate multiple network-identification techniques, VeriSign says the product, dubbed VeriSign Unified Authentication, can save companies significant time and effort, while providing more secure IT systems protection. The tools is set to become available Sept. 30.

VeriSign, which also serves as an Internet domain registry, said the package will let customers use existing security technology built into so-called directory services products, such as Microsoft Active Directory, Radius servers, and single-sign on infrastructure, including identity management software made by IBM's Tivoli unit.

The company will offer the option for buyers to manage their own authentication operations or outsource those responsibilities to VeriSign using a hosted version of service. Executives at the company said the system will cost roughly $25 per user each year.

In addition to introducing the authentication package, VeriSign announced that it will release a Windows-specific version of the system later this year. The company acknowledges that it would prefer customers to buy its entire Unified Authentication package, but it has created a version designed to integrate its security tools with elements of Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 operating system. VeriSign said the package was created through a relationship it has established with Microsoft.

Known primarily for its role as one of the Internet's primary sources of domain registry services, VeriSign has been pushing hard to build its network security business. Earlier this year, the company announced that it had won a multiyear agreement to provide security services for financial giant U.S. Bancorp; it has a similar deal in place with Merrill Lynch.