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PricewaterhouseCoopers tackles Web security

The management consulting firm will launch a new subsidiary next week, called BeTrusted, to provide Internet security software to corporate clients.

Management consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is jumping into the Web security market.

The "Big Five" consulting firm will launch a new subsidiary next week, called BeTrusted, to provide Web security software to corporate clients, said a spokesman for the firm. The company said its subsidiary will target companies that make large, complicated transactions with their business partners over the Internet.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is jumping into the Web security market as companies increase their focus on Net security issues. To date, the market has been dominated by VeriSign, which makes software to secure online transactions using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology. PKI systems issue and manage digital certificates, which serve as electronic IDs online.

In recent months, VeriSign has faced heightened competition from a growing number of players, including Entrust Technologies and GTE's CyberTrust, as more companies conduct increasingly complicated transactions via the Web.

PricewaterhouseCoopers and rivals Andersen Consulting, KPMG and EDS have all tackled the Web security market to some degree, using their services to help financial companies secure their clients' transactions online.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has been planning the new subsidiary for the past year, is targeting clients that conduct hefty transactions over the Web that require top-notch security efforts. This includes financial institutions that conduct large wire transactions over the Internet and companies that engage in large trading transactions with their buyers and suppliers.

The new subsidiary, heavily backed by its parent, will initially be staffed with about 120 PricewaterhouseCoopers employees and will license Web security software from partners Entrust and Baltimore Technologies.

The firm's spokesman said BeTrusted will be based in Columbia, Md.; it is searching for a chief executive officer and other senior-level executives to round out its management team.