http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=333465&thesection=technology&thesubsection=general 18.12.2001 By ADAM GIFFORD The E-government unit of the State Services Commission has opted for an open Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) standard it hopes will lead to rapid adoption of encryption technology by Government agencies. The unit has called for New Zealand and international certification authorities to apply for accreditation to supply keys or digital certificates to departments. "This is an open standard so departments can use a number of smart cards or USB tokens and certificates from any number of See-accredited certification authorities," said Secure Electronic Environment (See) project manager Mike Pearson. "Digital certificates can come from several suppliers, as opposed to requiring them to adopt a proprietary system." He said the E-government unit would accept the credentials for certification authorities audited for similar schemes overseas, such as the Australian Tax Office Gatekeeper project. "Now we've defined a standard, we are encouraging agencies to adopt this when they are using web-based applications which need secure authentication," Mr Pearson said. The See keys will allow departments to more easily create systems which share sensitive information across agency boundaries. By using smart cards of USB tokens, staff will not need to remember more than one password. "We think there will be savings because about 40 per cent of helpdesk calls are normally password related - and usually on Monday morning - so there will be savings from consolidating log-ins," Mr Pearson said. "People won't be able to claim someone looked over their shoulder and stole their password, because the token is needed for access as well." The first Government application to use See keys will be the Treasury's CFISnet (Crown Financial Information System). It is also seen as a key part of the Shared Workspace, a secure electronic environment for project and policy development across Government agencies. "By limiting the scope to authentication of public servants, the accreditation framework is intended to be low cost for certification authorities compared with similar frameworks in other countries," Mr Pearson said. He said the experience PKI agencies should get using See keys should help the development of a digital signature standard for government, which is on the agenda for next year. Ian Hight, the general manager of Baycorp ID Services, said his company would apply to become a certification authority. Baycorp ID Services has a close relationship with Baltimore, one of the leaders in the digital certificate industry. Mr Hight said the E-government unit had done a good job developing a standard. "It's entirely suitable for the New Zealand marketplace." The corporate sector was also moving to PKI systems. "Historically, secure communications has focused on issues such as intrusion protection, firewalls, virus protection and so on. People are now asking if that is enough." Mr Hight said that although PKI systems had mainly been bought by large organisations, "we are starting to see interest from smaller companies". - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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