PTO awards contract to safeguard electronic transactions

The Patent and Trademark Office yesterday announced that it plans to award a contract to Entrust Technologies Inc. for a secure system to supply encryption and digital signature technology for a range of electronic commerce applications.

PTO plans to use the public-key infrastructure-based security services to interact with the public and with federal agencies through the agency's extranet and secure e-mail. PTO also plans to use the services to protect sensitive information on its computers with Entrust's file encryption. PTO officials did not disclose the value of the contract.

The agency plans to serve as its own certification authority, creating, distributing and managing digital certificates. To enable others to use PTO's system, the agency plans to develop virtual private networks, remote access, single sign-on and access-control solutions based on those digital certificates.

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