DOD expands use of Netscape products

The Defense Department has expanded its departmentwide contract with Netscape Communications Corp. to include several new offerings and to allow Netscape products to be used to secure top-secret communications.

The license, which DOD inked with Netscape in October 1997, originally covered Communicator client software and five servers for more than 2 million users across the department. DOD now has upgraded the client to Communicator Pro and added three new servers and a security toolkit to the license.

In addition, the license has been amended to take out previous restrictions relegating the use of the Netscape products for "secret and below" communications only, said John Menkart, Netscape's regional DOD sales manager. This move was designed to allow DOD's intelligence community to use the products, he said.

"They really want to use the same set of tools...across not only the warfighter...but across into the intelligence space," Menkart said. "There are no restrictions."

The license now covers three Fortezza-enabled servers: Netscape Collabra, an open discussion server; Netscape Directory Server, an Internet applications server; and Netscape Messaging Server, an e-mail server.

A new product, Netscape Security Services, also has been added to the license. NSS is a security program that sits on all platforms and is designed to take existing applications and new applications and tie them to DOD's evolving public-key infrastructure (PKI).

The department is using Netscape servers to issue and manage software certificates that carry digital signatures as part of a pilot project to create a PKI for 250,000 to 500,000 users. "[NSS] can be used with existing applications or new, client-to-server applications or server-to-server applications," Menkart said.

"They recognize the need to protect not only Internet standards applications but applications they already have. It uses the infrastructure provided by the PKI to provide certificates," he said.

DOD's intelligence community had been in discussions with Netscape for some time to put an enterprise license into place, according to a DOD statement.

As an added incentive to DOD to execute this option in 1998, Netscape agreed to extend the use of NSS across the remainder of DOD at no additional cost. Officials at DOD could provide no further details by press time.

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