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Secure modems due this summer

A small chip maker announces patented technology that will make secure modems available by the end of the summer at "an extremely low cost."

A small chip company says its patented technology, announced today, will make secure modems available by the end of the summer for only a few dollars more than a standard modem.

"This architecture allows us to produce chips that will significantly reduce the cost of security for users," Anthony Caputo, chairman of Information Resource Engineering (IREG), told CNET. The chip will be the first to handle encryption and communications functions on the same chip, he added.

"The net result is a very high level of security at an extremely low cost," he said. No pricing was announced.

A secure modem using the new chip will be manufactured by Analog Devices (ADI) and marketed by both companies, with early shipments due in early summer and large quantities by late summer. The secure V.34 modem will combine IRE's secure communications chip and Analog Devices' digital signal processor (DSP).

The security device will address a major issue in Internet commerce?how to ensure that sensitive information is sent only to the proper party. In general, security in hardware devices is considered stronger and is cheaper than software-based encryption and authentication.

Because IRE's technology is based on a digital signal processor, the secure communications chip also can be incorporated in smart-card security tokens, local area networks adapters, ISDN adapter, ADSL adapters, cable modems, and voice products such as secure telephones or fax machines. IRE expects its second product to be a PCMCIA-card secure modem.

Caputo said IRE will probably license its patented technology to other manufacturers. The patent covers portable encrypting and authenticating communications devices. IRE expects the new chip to achieve DES encryption speeds on the order of 30Ombps, and it will support multiple security standards and cryptographic operations.

IRE, with about $10 million in annual revenues, provides encryption systems to protect transmissions on computer networks and the Internet. Analog Devices, with sales of $1.2 billion in 1996, manufactures high-performance integrated circuits for analog and digital signal processing applications.