helping to blaze the way to secure business dealings on the Internet
by Alan Zisman (c) 1996 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue #342 May 14, 1996 High Tech Office column
been a good
couple of weeks for a pair of Vancouver software development firms,
each of which has found its own niche in the booming Internet market.
is run by SFU computer scientist Andrew Csinger and
prodigy Patrick Richard. They've beaten the big guys to market
with technology to provide secure, authenticated business transactions
on the 'Net. As we've mentioned before, there have been several big
barriers to the growth of business on the Internet. First, businesses
and individual users are understandably wary of sending private
openly: your Visa number, for example, will pass through dozens
of computer gateways between you and your vendor, and could be
at any step.
you have no
way of knowing whether the person you're communicating with is really
who he or she claims to be. When identities get blurred in chat rooms
or fantasy dungeon games, it's all (more or less) in fun, but for
business, we'd all like to be sure that we know the identities of
the people we're dealing with.
from UBC, Xcert's Software Sentry will provide digital certificates
that the company believes could become as legally binding as
signatures. These can be integrated, behind the scenes, into Web
and individual browsers, allowing groups ranging from corporations
to clubs to take charge of their own security and to control access
to their material. Csinger and Richard hope this can be extended to
include automatic billing, allowing advertisers to build rich customer
new product "will ensure both privacy and authenticity, so the Internet
can become a trusted way to conduct business for everyone.
size can now benefit from state-of-the-art electronic security," he
says. "The Internet will be a whole new world."
predict that the
Intranet--private, internal corporate networks--is a potentially larger
market. Csinger is hopeful: "If this company is run with half a brain
and good marketing, surely we should get one per cent of that
market, and do exceptionally well."
of Xcert Software Sentry can be picked up from http://x.509.com on
the Internet. Internet giant Netscape has announced similar
features for its Netscape Certificate Server, but that product won't
be ready until the third quarter of the year, while Xcert's version
is available now. (In fact, in its press release, Netscape mentions
Xcert--along with Northern Telecom and several other
a Netscape technology partner.)
One of the
sees for Sentry is to enable 'Net sites with adult-only material to
ensure that only preregistered, bona-fide adults have access, but
Vancouver's Trove Investment Corporation (662-8522) has taken
the opposite tack with its 'Net Nanny software, which is aimed at
parents and teachers--any adults who feel it necessary to limit access
to some areas of the Internet. (Presumably, employers could also use
it to limit the sorts of surfing done on company time.)
shares are traded on the Vancouver Stock Exchange, has been
selected by IBM for inclusion on a soon-to-be-released CD-ROM
bundle of software that will be provided to purchasers of IBM hardware.
'Net Nanny was selected over a number of competing products, and a
"Lite" version of its software will be included on the disc, along
with an offer to upgrade to the full version at a discounted price.
it will benefit greatly from IBM's worldwide distribution and clout,
and feels that this selection validates it as a leader in the field.
It has plans for a Windows 95 version and a corporate network version,
although it might have to find a more grey-flannel name. More about
it from http://www.netnanny. com/netnanny