Security, smart card tools take center stage at E-Gov

Security and smart cards highlighted last month's Electronic Government show in Washington, D.C., as vendors showcased products designed to protect data and make it safer for agencies to conduct business over the Internet.

In addition, vendors seized the opportunity to preview their newest technologies, including neural agents that mimic the way humans think.

Electric Press Inc. demonstrated eFed, its Internet federal procurement software package, which it now has integrated with smart card-based encryption and authentication security features.

Electric Press teamed up with Entrust Technologies Inc., which is providing the secure infrastructure piece, and NDS America Inc., which is providing the secure smart-card piece, to develop what it calls the first commercial off-the-shelf procurement solution that incorporates public-key infrastructure (PKI). "We've come together to show that this can work," said Robert Sturm, vice president of business development at Electric Press. "These features are now in our commercial product."

The new version of eFed, which has yet to be named, secures payment transactions using a smart card that stores a digital signature and certificate. The smart card comes with a cryptographic co-processor, generates the private key on the card itself and is protected by a personal identification number.

"We are stepping outside into the real world" by integrating PKI with an end-to-end procurement application, said Gary Moore, federal technical adviser at Entrust. "In the realm of procurement, where we have the buyer and seller and back-end process, this is really the first in the whole area of PKI."Electric Press will add the product to the General Services Administration schedule.


Securing Web transactions

Spyrus Inc. announced a new software product that supports Fortezza and is designed to secure data sent over the Internet using Netscape Communications Corp.'s Communicator.

Users can install the Spyrus FSE Solution for Netscape, which has Federal Information Processing Standard encryption, on a variety of encryption tokens. For example, they can use a software token for applications such as government travel vouchers that require low to medium assurance, and they can use smart cards and PC cards for applications such as organizational messaging that require higher assurance. Spyrus FSE is designed to work with Netscape's Communicator, Enterprise Server and Directory Server.

"Users can use the product on software, a smart card or PC card. It depends on the level of security they require," said Virginia MacLean, director of corporate marketing at Spyrus. "This makes it more generally accessible. Users aren't forced into the highest level of assurance."

Spyrus FSE is available supporting the Spyrus Lynks Privacy Card and Fortezza software. Support for the Spyrus Rosetta smart card will be available by the end of September. Spyrus plans to add the product to the GSA schedule.


Secure Signatures

At E-Gov last week, LCI Technology Group NV introduced its SmartPen Biometric Signature Authentication System (BiAS) for secure authentication of signed documents.

The SmartPen works like a ballpoint pen but with a transmitter that sends the signature information to a computer. It measures and records individual signature characteristics, including pressure used and speed, and then sends the digital signature to the computer and stored or attaches the signature to a file or document.

This is more secure than a traditional digital signature because even if someone steals the pen, no one can duplicate the exact characteristics of another person's physical signature, said Sam Asseer, LCI's chairman and chief executive officer.


Web-to-Host links

In another announcement, Kasten Chase Applied Research, Sytel Inc. and Exodus Communications Inc. jointly introduced ePath, a World Wide Web-to-host solution for agencies moving their legacy client/server and mainframe applications to an Internet Protocol network.

The solution is based on Kasten Chase's VersaPath Gateway, which uses Web-to-host terminal emulation to bring any information stored on a legacy system to the Web-enabled VersaPath client. The gateway also creates a virtual private network between the client and the gateway through the Internet, an extranet or intranet to completely secure the application and information being transmitted.

Sytel is providing its Legacy-to-Web Transition Services to manage an agency's migration from its mainframe systems to a more up-to-date infrastructure. The VersaPath Gateway servers are hosted in an Exodus Communications Inc. Internet Data Center.


Neural Management

In his E-Gov keynote address, Charles B. Wang, chairman and chief executive officer of Computer Associates International Inc., detailed one of CA's newest technologies, dubbed neugents.

Neugents are neural agents used with the Unicenter TNG system that can predict the probability of network breakdowns within 90 percent accuracy, according to CA. Wang said the technology, which mimics the way humans think and has the capacity to learn, pinpoints subtle behaviors that no human could ever detect.

"Instead of telling you when your network is down, it tells you before," Wang said. "In government agencies, it would predict things so you can provide better service."

Wang also highlighted 3-D technology commonly used in animated commercials and movies. The technology is being used by the Naval Reserve Information Systems Office in New Orleans to help network managers locate and manage all the equipment that is on their network, said Jim White, senior vice president of CA's information management solutions division.


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