The rollout of Public Key Infrastructures (PKI) within corporates can trap the unwary in costly and difficult application modifications, security experts have warned.
In a PKI environment, digital certificates are used in combination with private and public keys to certify the identity of the sender of electronic communications such as email and Web based forms.
Allan Wall, security analyst at Axent, warned that the implementation of PKIs may involve a huge workload for network managers in modifying applications.
Tony Caine, regional director of Secure Computing, said that applications need to be made PKI aware, which means users should evaluate whether strong authentication can fulfil their business requirements.
David Sinnott, director of global key accounts at encryption vendor Baltimore, said that the features users should consider when they decide on a PKI solution are scalability, flexibility, security, administration that can be distributed, resilience and open sytems.
"If you use off the shelf applications with no API it's a big issue," said Sinnott. "You need to build business logic around crypto."
Craig Richman, business development manager at ecommerce consultantcy Consult Hyperion, said the amount of work network managers need to carry out on applications depends on implementation.
"Users should complete a comprehensive study of requirements before jumping straight into an implementation," he said.
Richman explained that companies such as Entrust, which is used by the Royal Mail in its Trusted Third Party service Viacode, provide a complete package of client side software - but that this is proprietary.
He added that if a company opts to use X.509 compliant certificate manager software, from the likes of Microsoft or Netscape, then it needs to work out how it can incorporate directory services and handle certificate maintenance and management.
For more stories see 7 April issue of Network News UK
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