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EDS locks up security services

EDS is calling in some hired guns to help with new security services the consulting giant is rolling out to customers attempting to bulletproof their online business-to-business transactions.

EDS is calling in some hired guns to help with new security services the consulting giant is rolling out to customers attempting to bulletproof their online business-to-business transactions.

Plano, Texas-based EDS is targeting two sorts of corporate customers with its new Electronic Business Security Services (EBSS): those who are afraid of electronic business because they think the Internet is not secure enough and companies that want to add security features to e-commerce applications they have already built.

"We'll do an assessment of where they are today, look at where they want to go, and lay out the roadmap for them, and put in the pieces that make the most sense," said Bob Rein, program manager for EDS Electronic Business, which announced the new services today at the Comdex Spring trade show in Chicago.

The menu of Web-based security services--which focus on identification, authentication, and authorization--are available immediately. Combined, these services let companies verify an electronic user's identity and authorize them to make secure transactions.

EDS is partnering with Entrust Technologies for Public Key Infrastructure, or PKI, and digital certificates, which are electronic IDs that vouch for the identity of an individual or company. PKI is the software that issues, renews, revokes, and otherwise manages digital IDs.

Other EDS partners include enCommerce to provide customers with browser-based authorization and access control, as well as Platinum Technology for client-server based authorization and access.

The Plano-based firm is teaming with ICL for its i500 enterprise directory, which customers can use with e-commerce, security, and messaging applications. ICL has the most widely accepted X.500 directory, Rein said.

Finally, the company's partner, networking giant Cisco Systems, will provide network security services to EDS customers.

Netscape, as well as IBM and others, are scrambling to assemble their own corporate security strategies. IBM, which has a comprehensive security package called SecureWay, has hooked up with Dascom for its authorization product and is also piloting digital certificates with customers for business-to-business transactions.

"Everybody has ambitious [security] plans right now and everybody's trying to backfill the spaces where they're weak," said Jamie Lewis, president and principal analyst at The Burton Group, a Salt Lake City-based network computing consultancy.

"IBM doesn't have the early mindshare of Entrust when it comes to digital certificates and PKI," Lewis said, adding that very few companies are deploying digital certificates to customers yet. "That's an advantage for EDS."

However, EDS could have picked a better company to work with on the directory side, he said.

"There are better partners to be working with, such as Netscape, which has huge mindshare," he said. "But maybe EDS sees them as a competitor," because of Netscape's vast array of e-commerce services offerings, he said.

Rus Records, chief technologist for e-business at services and consulting firm Computer Sciences, said rival EDS isn't offering anything new.

"I think what they've done is gathered up a few loose marbles on the table," he said. "It's a collection of odds and ends and they're calling it a solution."