Five vendors including Microsoft have banded together to try to increase customer confidence in public key infrastructure (PKI) as a security blanket for ecommerce.
PKI technology ensures authentication, privacy and data integrity across many types of applications. It can manage certificates issued by PKI Certificate Authorities (CAs), public keys and private keys for use in the enterprise.
Although analysts Datamonitor estimate that the global PKI market will grow to $1.8 billion by 2001, from $30 million in 1998, users remain wary of interoperability problems of existing offerings.
Now Microsoft, IBM, Baltimore Technologies, Entrust and RSA Security have formed the PKI Forum to address this issue, with other vendors invited to join.
The key objectives of the forum are to accelerate the adoption and use of PKI as a critical enabler of ebusiness, enhance the value of PKI for customers and business partners, increase confidence in deployment of PKI by customers and independent software vendors (ISVs), and accelerate revenue growth for PKI based products and services.
Work will begin early next year, and by June 2000 the group aims to showcase its first interoperability demonstration. The forum will work with other standards bodies, such as the Open Group, which will help with its legal and administrative support infrastructure.
Shanen Boettcher, product manager for Windows 2000 security, said: "We are taking standards through the last mile. The forum will give us a platform to communicate with customers. It will help solve the confusion about PKI."
Forum members said they would not move into areas that are not appropriate, such as legal and policy issues.
"We have no specific legal agenda," said Boettcher. "We have been formed through customer demand for interoperability and how the technology is applied to business. PKI is about establishing trust between parties."
Aberdeen Group analyst Eric Hemmendinger poured cold water on the initiative: "If customers are going to play a major role, they needed customers up there on the rostrum when they gave birth to this baby. There were none."
He did, however, say that the co-operation between suppliers will help users, but is a "prisoner's dilemma. If they truly want to make PKI more open, they will concede advantages to competitors."
He added: "It won't help businesses today, but if they're in it for the long haul, they can accomplish something."
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago