Secure mobile communication technologies and services that use digital signatures and data encryption are being developed by public key infrastructure (PKI) vendor GTE Cybertrust and Finnish telco Sonera.
The new services will utilise the Sonera Smarttrust, the first digital signature technology for wireless networks based on subscriber identification modules (Sim).
This enables service providers to positively identify the transaction parties, and guarantees the confidentiality and integrity of information.
As the uptake of mobile phones outpaces even the rise of Internet subscribers, the idea is to develop products that will introduce ecommerce to wireless networks.
The solution is compatible with the GSM standard and is also designed for future generations of mobile communication networks as well as for wireless application protocol (WAP) technology.
Frances Chisholm, director of sales and marketing for Sonera Smarttrust, explained that the technology will allow secure banking transactions or stock quotations using SMS, with 1,024bit RSA encryption.
"Ecommerce is going to become m-commerce, mobile commerce," said Chisholm.
Trevor Thomas, director of GTE Cybertrust Solutions Emea, admitted that the reluctance of UK high street banks to embrace internet banking would likely mean that the technology would be first deployed in Scandinavia, Germany and the Far East.
The technology will eventually be supported by third generation mobile phones, but initially users would have to replace their Sim cards. The first SIM cards have been made by Finnish company Setec.
Chisholm added that cryptographic processing uses half of the 16Kbyte memory of the Sim card.
PKI enabled mobile phones are on trial in house at Sonera and with the Finnish Bank Leonia. The first Sonera/Cybertrust solutions will be available for certification authorities and customer delivery during Q2 1999.
For more stories see 5 May issue of Network News UK
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