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Secure connections down Flat

Flat Connections unveils two new communications cards this week that use Java-based software to do secure email, real-time virus checking, and on-the fly data encryption.

LAS VEGAS--Flat Connections unveiled two new communications cards this week that use Java-based software to do secure email, real-time virus checking, and on-the fly data encryption.

Flat Connections introduced a new type-II PC Card communications card called Madura and internal ISA card based on the PowerPC 603GC. The company introduced a similar internal card last month called Sumba which uses an x86-based design.

While both new modems perform the functions of a traditional PC modem card, Flat Connections calls them "embedded network computers" because of the ability to form a "personal firewall" with real-time virus checking and support for public-key cryptography at up to 1,024 bits.

The cards--which will find initial uses in settings such as financial brokerages, medical records, and secure electronic transactions--run the Java OS embedded on IBM's RISC-based embedded controller, a 33.6-kbps DSVD fax-modem, the "Flatware" application programming interface, and communications applets. Data is stored in 4MB of DRAM (dynamic random access memory), and secure authentication keys can be stored in 1MB of flash ROM for quick access.

Flat Connections says that their software splits the security and antivirus processing tasks between the main CPU and the Java coprocessor. This allows for faster communications while scanning incoming data for viruses in real time. Using Microsoft Exchange mail, for instance, users will be able to choose a level of encryption of up to 1,024 bits; the devices decrypt the email while checking for viruses at the same time. Any other product with support for Microsoft's cryptographic API will be able to receive and decipher information using public-key cryptography algorithms licensed from RSA Data Security.

According to the company, there doesn't have to be a Flat Connect card at both ends of the connection, but those without the card will find the processing of encrypted messages slowed down.

No pricing for either product was announced, but the communications cards are expected to be somewhat higher than other modem cards.