The US Department of Commerce has granted security specialist Gradient Technology and Netscape permission to begin exporting 56-bit encryption products.
Netscape has said it is working toward obtaining approval to export products based on 128-bit encryption technology, while Gradient has launched a comprehensive enterprise security framework for Web-based client/server and legacy applications.
Until recently the US government has banned export of anything higher than 40-bit encryption technology, worried that it could be used for anti-defence purposes. But it changed its policy earlier this year after coming under pressure from US software vendors worried about foreign competition. Now it will award 56-bit encryption export approval if companies can prove that they will build key recovery mechanisms into their products within two years, which enable government agencies to decode the software if necessary.
According to Tony Lowrey, the European technical manager for Gradient, 56- bit encryption support will make business easier for Gradient in Europe. ?Until now all US companies have had to apologise for a lack of privacy control,? he said.
However, he believes most security threats are not to do with privacy but more to do with impersonation. ?Authentication is the most important aspect of security,? he said. ?The biggest threat facing an organisation is someone pretending to be someone else by for example copying someone?s password.?
Gradient will go after a broader commercial market, with its new Netcrusader product suite. ?Now we can offer a variety of standards based encryption, authentication and authorisation mechanisms,? said Lowrey.
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