Illinois reaches PKI milestone

Illinois issued its 100,000th digital certificate earlier this month, a total fueled by the state’s enterprise-scale public-key infrastructure.

The state uses Entrust’s Entrust Authority as its PKI solution. The product provides encryption, digital signature and authentication capabilities across a range of applications, according to the company. Brent Crossland, business development manager for state and local government at Entrust, said Entrust has been working with Illinois since 2000.

The state’s PKI aims “to facilitate development of electronic applications that could replace many of the paper processes currently employed by the state’s agencies,” according to the state’s certificate policy for digital signature and encryption applications.

Illinois Department of Central Management Services operates the state’s Certification Authority, which issues digital certificates.
Crossland said the state’s PKI approach is unusual in that the infrastructure is offered to other units of government in addition to state agencies. He cited Chicago’s Department of Public Health, which operates an online application using certificates.

In the past six to 12 months, Crossland said he has seen more interest from individual agencies and departments in creating new applications and deploying them using the state’s PKI.

Over the years, agencies using digital certificates have included the Illinois Department on Aging, the state’s Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Employment Security. The latter agency’s TaxNet application uses digital certificates, Crossland said.

TaxNet, offered jointly by the Department of Employment Security and Department of Revenue, lets Illinois employers electronically file unemployment insurance tax and wage reports and state withholding forms.

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