GTE resells ATM encryption tech

GTE Corp. will offer federal agencies encryption technology from Celotek Corp. that is designed to secure communications over high-speed Asynchronous Transfer Mode networks, the companies announced last week.

Although encryption technology is widely available, most products are not designed to handle data traveling at high speeds over public networks.

GTE already provides Defense Department customers an ATM-based encryption product called Fastlane. But that product is available only to customers working with classified data. Celotek's CellCase is intended for organizations sending sensitive but not classified information.

"A lot of federal government customers have approached us" regarding ATM security, "who can't buy Fastlane because they're not carrying classified data," said Mike Guzelian, director of information security systems for GTE's Communications Systems Division, Needham, Mass.

The company foresees increasing federal demand for integrated solutions that protect the privacy of all communications over ATM networks. Although the agreement is not exclusive, GTE is Celotek's only federal reseller.

GTE already has a direct federal sales force in place for Fastlane, so the Celotek offering will be one more product "to add to our portfolio," Guzelian said. Among GTE's target agencies are NASA, some Justice Department offices and the departments of Commerce and State.

The Celotek product is a simple device and is easy to configure, Guzelian said. It is a "bump in the wire" installed on the customer's premises between the last switch on the internal network and the connection to the public network.

CellCase encrypts ATM traffic cell by cell but leaves the header with the routing information in the clear. That means that traffic can traverse switches in the public domain while remaining encrypted, so users do not have to employ dedicated lines.

GTE has listed the CellCase cryptographic systems and its own ATM encryptor on the Navy's Voice Video and Data contract and NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement II vehicle, Guzelian said. CellCase systems provide access control and authentication as well as confidentiality services.

ATM is becoming an important technology in the federal sector, "especially for agencies looking to increase efficiencies by integrating the transport of different types of services," said Warren Suss, president of Warren H. Suss Associates, a consulting firm in Jenkintown, Pa.

DOD and the Treasury Department are among the agencies making a significant commitment to the technology, Suss said. If you are trying to load your traffic onto ATM, "it makes sense to encrypt there as well," he said.

Celotek, whose roots go back to a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency effort in the mid-1990s, provides the "only credible commercial [ATM encryption] product in the world," said Ghias Massarani, president and chief information officer of the Research Triangle Park, N.C.- based company.

Celotek already has some federal customers in DOD, but it sees its relationship with GTE as a chance to gain visibility in the government arena. GTE is "very federal government-specific," Massarani said. Its business is such that it is aware of opportunities "well in advance," he said. He sees Celotek's CellCase product as a "natural extension" of the ATM encryption that GTE already offers.

Celotek offers OC-3 (155 megabits/sec) encryption, and OC-12 (622 megabits/sec) encryption is expected in the third quarter. Celotek also expects to be certified in the third quarter under the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Federal Information Processing Standard 140-1 security standard, which is mandatory for cryptography products in the federal market.

CellCase "would not be widely used in the DOD space, but for civilian agencies, this product could be beneficial," said Joe Pagan, security solutions marketing manager at Fore Systems Inc., an ATM vendor based in Warrendale, Pa. In particular, the technology might be of interest to any agency dealing with patents, treasury data, patient records and other data that needs to be secure, Pagan said.

-- Adams is a free-lance writer based in Alexandria, Va. She can be reached at cbadams@erols.com.

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