Diversinet Corp., which sells a novel approach to digital certificate technology, has established an alliance with Equifax Inc.'s electronic commerce security venture.

Equifax Secure Inc. of Atlanta announced the addition of Diversinet and several other companies last week to its E-Commerce Partners Program, broadening the options available to companies seeking outsourcing support for Internet security.

For Diversinet, based in Toronto with offices in the San Francisco and Washington areas, the arrangement increases U.S. momentum, which has been building for some months.

Part of the company's public key infrastructure technology, the foundation of its digital certification system, was awarded a U.S. patent early this year.

Diversinet has supplied what it calls Passport permit technology to Research in Motion Ltd., a Canadian developer of high-powered interactive pagers that have become part of the remote service packages of a few banking and brokerage providers. Passport's compact security codes are well suited for pagers, smart cards, and other constrained computing spaces.

Diversinet has also been in the forefront of the movement toward secure delivery of music over the Internet using the MP3 format.

Working with Equifax Secure "opens up a new channel for us ... to illustrate the superiority of our permit technology," said Diversinet chief executive officer Nagy Moustafa.

Diversinet's innovation with the complex e-commerce component of authentication is to separate a digital certificate from the more limited authorizations or permissions that might be required for a given service.

"If I am a bank customer and want to buy something from eBay, I can get a permit for just that transaction, like a certified check or credit card authorization," Mr. Moustafa said in a recent interview. The limited- purpose permit attaches to a certificate that may have been issued and maintained by the bank and that engenders a merchant's trust in dealing with the customer.

The transaction Mr. Moustafa described could have been done within the Equifax Secure framework, as the on-line auctioneer eBay is one of its users.

Vijay Balakrishnan, Equifax Secure's vice president of marketing, said the "additional layer" of authorization security provided by permits "offers us the ability to expand the functionality of digital certificates."

The Diversinet approach also circumvents the administrative hassles of certificate revocation lists, which otherwise have to be checked to assure that a given credential has not expired or been revoked. Permits also lessen the need for private information to be transmitted over open communications networks.

Mr. Balakrishnan said consumer privacy safeguards are of "utmost importance" in what Equifax is delivering to e-commerce providers.

Other Equifax Secure partners named last week, all active in various aspects of e-commerce, security, and authentication, are Entegrity Solutions Corp., Information Builders Inc., WorldTalk Corp., New Media Productions, and Structured Arts.

Others include: Altiga Networks, Aventail, TimeStep, V-One, Internet Security Systems, Fusive.com, Tri-Sage, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Equifax also has a close relationship with International Business Machines Corp., which began last June.

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