Entrust debuts PKI products for Microsoft platforms

Entrust Technologies Inc. this month announced a new set of security solutions for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95, 98 and NT 4.0 operating systems for users who cannot afford to wait for the release of the more security-minded Windows 2000.

The announcement of two new public-key infrastructure (PKI) products for Microsoft's Windows products comes as part of Entrust's new position as a Microsoft Security Partner to advance security in the operating systems.

PKI solutions use digital signature, certificate and encryption technologies to authenticate a user's identity and to ensure that data is not tampered with during transmission. That high level of security is something that many federal customers require but that Microsoft will not provide until Windows 2000, said Tom Brubaker, business development manager at Entrust.

"Customers have been having problems, continually deploying Windows 98 and NT but needing security," he said. "And when they go to Microsoft, they're told it will be in Windows 2000...but who can wait?"

The first product, Entrust/SignOn, provides a single secure log-on for users on a Windows NT network. The secure log-on replaces the Windows NT log-on dialog box, so the user is securely logged on to the network even before he accesses the network. Entrust/SignOn then automatically carries the certificate over to any other applications requiring that level of security.

This makes it easier for users because they do not have to remember multiple passwords for each secure application, and it gives systems administrators an added level of confidence in the security of their networks, Brubaker said. "This is a great leverage for people who want to have that functionality but they've already made the investment in the [current Windows] platform," he said.

The second product, Entrust/Unity, is a cryptographic service provider that extends the encryption already available in Microsoft security-enabled applications. This includes the Internet Explorer World Wide Web browser and Outlook Express e-mail client.

"Today Microsoft itself doesn't have a strong offering in this area of public-key infrastructure," said Phil Schacter, director and senior analyst at The Burton Group. Microsoft does have its Certificate Server and is moving in the direction of PKI, Schacter said, but the products are not as good as Entrust's and do not have the history and experience that Entrust can offer. "While this may be some duplication of effort, it will help the customer in the long run," he said.

Entrust/SignOn will be available later this year as part of the Entrust Enterprise Desktop Solutions 5.0 package. Entrust/Unity is available now as an add-on to the Microsoft products.

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