CyberTrust, a GTE company and provider of secure business-to-business e-commerce solutions, has received U.S. government approval to export its brand of digital certificate technology to eligible companies in 45 countries worldwide.
The CyberTrust certificate authority (CA) product will allow non-U.S. companies to issue and manage digital certificates for a wide range of applications, particularly business-to-business financial transactions. The company currently deals primarily with firms from the banking, financial and healthcare industries.
“Corporations in today’s global, Web-based economy need to assure their customers, both domestic and international, that critical interactions on the Internet remain as safe as traditional paper-based ones,” commented Peter Hussey, CyberTrust president. “CyberTrust’s international market presence enables us to offer global companies the same Web safeguards as U.S.-based firms, and will accelerate and facilitate the formation of a true, online business community.”
Safe Signatures for E-Commerce
The digital certificates issued through CyberTrust utilize electronic digital signatures to ensure the integrity of transactions. PKI (public key infrastructure), which taps into the power of cryptography, is the backbone technology. Coupled with the added value of consulting services, CyberTrust intends to address the immediate concerns of international companies involved in e-commerce.
According to an International Data Corp. (IDC) report, “e-commerce is rapidly spreading beyond U.S. boundaries and going global.” IDC adds that non-U.S. e-commerce will account for almost half of the worldwide spending by 2003, growing from 26% in 1998 to 46% by 2003.
Entrust and Network Associates have recently made similar announcements regarding official U.S. government permission to export PKI solutions and developer kits with 128-bit cryptography to approved international commercial firms.
Clinton, CyberTrust and Crypto Control
The CyberTrust approval comes on the heels of a recent Clinton administration initiative to relax export controls for encryption technology, a move that was met with enthusiasm from the high-tech sector. CyberTrust has been given the go-ahead to export U.S.-grade cryptography (128-bit) which is significantly stronger than the international-grade encryption-based business solutions (56-bit) that are currently available.
Encryption bit count quite simply refers to the strength and possibility of the technology. A crypto strength of 56-bit means, according to security experts, that there are billions of possible keys to decipher the coded information — and only one of them works. With 128-bit encryption, however, there are 4.7 billion trillion times as many keys as with 56-bit encryption.
“The security provided by the underlying cryptography will ensure that confidential information is not disclosed and that an accurate, reliable record of transactions is maintained,” observed a security expert from Baltimore Technologies. Cryptography — derived from the Greek “kryptos,” meaning hidden, and “graphia,” for writing — is a means to scramble data by utilizing mathematical algorithms.
According to a recent Forrester Research report, business-to-business e-commerce, a $43-billion industry today, is expected to expand to $1.3 trillion by 2003. Forrester also reports that 80% of companies state that security is one of the biggest barriers to creating electronic links with customers and partners.