Magazine article American Banker

Data Encryption Vendor Certicom Joins Security Alliance for Wireless Commerce

Magazine article American Banker

Data Encryption Vendor Certicom Joins Security Alliance for Wireless Commerce

Article excerpt

Certicom Corp., which sells a data encryption technology well suited for smart cards and other small digital appliances, has joined a global alliance that is developing a security standard for wireless electronic commerce.

The initiative, known as Radicchio, was started in September by Electronic Data Systems Corp., the smart card company Gemplus, and Sonera SmartTrust, an e-commerce unit of the Finnish telecommunications company and wireless services pioneer Sonera.

Eyeing a projected $66 billion of mobile commerce by 2003, the companies want to promote PKIs, or public key infrastructures, based on data encryption in order to protect transactions to and from mobile phones, pagers, personal digital assistants, and other such devices.

Because of the length and complexity of cryptographic keys -- sequences of hundreds of ones and zeros that lock and unlock protected data -- many companies that want to economize on processing have explored Certicom's more compact approach to coding, called elliptic curve cryptography. Licensees include Hewlett-Packard Co. and its Verifone division, Motorola Inc., 3Com/Palm Computing, Qualcomm, and Schlumberger.

An elliptic curve key of 160 bits is said to be as secure as a conventional 1,024-bit key with standard RSA or DSA algorithms.

Certicom, based in Toronto and with many of its activities centered in Hayward, Calif., said it will contribute to Radicchio its expertise in such areas as Wireless Application Protocol, the GSM mobile telephone standard, and the Secure Sockets Layer and Wireless Transaction Layer Security protocols. …

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