Hewlett-Packard is blazing a trail in the market for encryption software with the introduction of the International Cryptography Framework (ICF).
Newly approved by the US Government, ICF complies with the key recovery system stipulated by the US for the export of encryption in September.
It lets users encrypt messages, authorise documents to be viewed and allows secure transactions over the Internet. The framework forms a part of the HP Praesidium enterprise security architecture.
ICF has also received the approval of the UK and French governments.
In a statement the DTI said: "ICF is an interesting solution that may help to ensure that industry needs for security for information and communication systems are met without undermining the requirements for effective law enforcement."
Mindful of recent changes in the law, ICF has also been designed with enough flexibility to use new and stronger encryption algorithms, should government policies change in the future.
Software companies lining up behind HP to endorse the ICF as a standard include Microsoft, RSA and Trusted Information Systems (TIS). The first to announce they will incorporate the framework into their Internet products are Netscape, VeriFone, Informix and Oracle. In addition, Intel has pledged to develop chips for hardware encryption that will conform to the ICF.
HP described the ICF as "the world's most important and innovative breakthrough in making electronic commerce more pervasive". The company claims the technology removes barriers to Internet commerce by allaying user fears of fraud.
Cryptography: what's in store
Cryptography - the why's and wherefores The Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS), which claims to be the largest European society of IT professionals with 200,000 members, has issued a range of recommendations to the OECD Committee currently drafting guidelines on cryptographic policy. These are:
- The use of cryptography for identifying data corruption or authenticating people/organisations should be unrestricted
- All individuals and organisations should be able to store and transmit data to others with appropriate confidentiality protection
- The governments of the world should agree on a policy relating to their access to other people's data while seeking the best technical advice on:whether and which access mechanisms are effective, efficient and adequate to fight crime
- How to implement the policy whilst minimising the security risks to organisations and individual citizens.
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