Magazine article American Banker

Electronic Commerce: It's Standing Room Only at Web Security Show; Capacity Crowd Flocks to Entrust's Meeting on Large-Scale Certification

Magazine article American Banker

Electronic Commerce: It's Standing Room Only at Web Security Show; Capacity Crowd Flocks to Entrust's Meeting on Large-Scale Certification

Article excerpt

Scale took on a whole new meaning last week for Entrust Technologies Inc.

The specialist in digital authentication technology, like its competitors, has continually been concerned about the scalability of its public key infrastructure systems-building them big enough and fast enough to meet the anticipated demands of electronic commerce.

Entrust faced a different kind of challenge last week. It had to accommodate a 70% increase in attendance at its second annual conference for customers and strategic partners, SecureSummit '99, in Orlando.

John Ryan, president and chief executive officer of Plano, Tex.-based Entrust, said he anticipated 1,000 people-which would have been a gain of 300 from last year-but 1,200 showed up. There were also more than 50 exhibiting companies, a 100% increase.

"We're quite excited," Mr. Ryan said. "This sends a message to the marketplace that what we are talking about is very real."

Attendance at privacy and security conferences has been generally robust. When technology is the attraction-as at the annual RSA Data Security Inc. conferences-people come by the thousands. More and more come from banks and other businesses trying to find their way in Internet commerce and "extended enterprises"-opening their networks in a secure way to customers and remote employees.

Entrust, its rival Verisign Inc., and other information security vendors, which invariably license RSA encryption software, compete for attention at that company's show each January. Entrust sponsors its own meeting to flaunt its product developments and put a spotlight on some of its clients, to the extent they are willing to put their security strategies on public view.

The aim is to show how "we are serving the transition to e-business," Mr. Ryan said.

In a telephone interview during the Orlando meeting, Mr. Ryan was effusive and optimistic.

"We think we have rolled out a complete framework for e-business," Mr. Ryan said of a series of announcements revolving around version 5.0 of Entrust/PKI, the flagship public key infrastructure system for digital certificates.

"We are providing customers with more flexible options to scale, manage, and establish the trust model of their choice," he said.

In a sign of the program's workability, loyal Entrust customer Bank of Nova Scotia is participating in the 5.0 preview program, a test phase.

"We are pleased to see new features like remote administration (of credentials and privileges), which will provide us with the capability to deploy secure electronic identities conveniently," said Drew Brown, senior vice president of electronic banking at Scotiabank.

"Entrust/PKI gives us the capability of extending trusted e-business solutions to our customers and employees, and integrating additional realworld business applications with our existing PKIs," Mr. Brown added.

Scotiabank is one of Entrust's marquee customers, billed as one of the largest deployers of digital certificates in the world. The warm spot in the Toronto bank's heart for Entrust may have something to do with Entrust's Canadian roots, as a spinoff of the telecommunications giant Nortel Networks.

But from its Texas base, the PKI company has made considerable inroads in banking and other industries globally, with a client list that includes Royal Bank of Scotland and the Swift banking communications network.

In the United States it has worked with Citigroup, J.P. Morgan & Co., and Chase Manhattan Corp. One of Entrust's announcements last week trumpeted its role in a Dutch initiative called I-Pay with SET, which uses the payment card industry's Secure Electronic Transaction protocol for the first time with debit cards as well as credit cards. …

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