SSP unveils Secure PC

SSP Solutions Inc., a provider of secure access control solutions and services, announced Oct. 22 the launch of Secure PC, an "out-of-the-box" secure computer delivered as a working client to the user.

Secure PC is a prepackaged solution incorporating basic systems from Dell Computer Corp. and other manufacturers and integrated with selected technology from the SSP Solution Suite of security products and services.

Secure PC supplements the product offerings of Pulsar Data Systems Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SSP and a provider of enterprise-level hardware, peripherals and software solutions designed for complex networking and security situations.

Many of SSP's customers have been using the company's secure e-mail and browser products for years, but the system has never before been packaged as a preconfigured client, said Bill Holmes, vice president of marketing for the Irvine, Calif.-based company.

Although no government customers are officially using the Secure PC yet, they have been using the technology it integrates.

Secure PC is shipped standard with a software and hardware package that:

n Adds smart card functionality to browser and e-mail applications.

n Secures Internet communications, e-commerce and financial transactions.

n Provides intranet and extranet access.

n Protects users' desktops from unauthorized access.

The product uses SecureStart, a log-on protection system for Microsoft Corp. Windows-based PCs that calls for the insertion of a smart card and a personal identification number for PC access. The system automatically locks upon removal of the user's smart card and requires an administrator to override the system lock.

Secure PC also includes SafeBoot, which controls access to critical and sensitive information stored on PCs, something that is particularly important when a laptop computer is lost or stolen.

It uses the 256-bit key and other leading encryption algorithms to scramble data in a way that is completely transparent to the authorized user, but prevents unauthorized users from reading the information.

Pulsar is planning to make the Secure PC available through its existing General Services Administration schedule and National Institutes of Health Electronic Computer Store II contract, with shipments starting this month.

Secure PC's pricing starts at $99 above the cost of a normal computer system, but Holmes said that with more sophisticated security solutions, that price will increase.

Alan Promisel, a PC analyst at IDC, said the top PC manufacturers have been focusing their integrated security offerings on the government market, "but, for the most part, a PC specifically being marketed as a 'secure PC' is a new approach that I think will provide some momentum."Secure PC features

n SecureStart: Log-on protection for PCs running Microsoft Corp. Windows. SecureStart restricts access unless both a smart card and a PIN number are used and automatically locks the PC when the user's smart card is removed.

n SafeBoot: Developed to control access to important and sensitive information stored on PCs. Information on the hard drive is always encrypted, with decryption performed only when the authorized user is accessing information. SafeBoot uses the Advanced Encryption Standard 256-bit key and other leading encryption algorithms to scramble data.

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