information security business by changing the way people think about it.
Entrust, which claims to be the international leader in providing data encryption technology for assuring trusted transactions and communications over open networks, is putting forward the concept of an SEE -- security-enabled e-business.
The idea is to get corporations to "view security as a doorway to new opportunities rather than as a defensive posture," said John Ryan, president and chief executive officer of Plano, Tex.-based Entrust.
He defined SEE, introduced last month and supported by a white paper available on the Entrust Web site, as "a simple, easy-to-implement framework to turn on electronic business in an efficient and trusted way."
Two financial services companies -- the Canadian mutual fund leader Mackenzie Financial and Bank of Bermuda -- have already "gone all the way with implementation of the architecture" described in the Entrust report, said Bob Heard, the vendor's senior vice president of business development and marketing.
Along with competitors such as Verisign Inc. and GTE Corp.'s Cybertrust unit, Entrust has struggled to make large-scale sales of public key infrastructures. Known by the abbreviation PKI, these are cryptographic systems used in the issuance and management of digital certificates for authenticating on-line buyers, sellers, and senders and receivers of any type of remote communication.
Though Entrust has begun turning profits and has licensed technology responsible for four million digital certificates, it has had to work at dispelling confusion and skepticism among prospective corporate deployers of PKIs. Mr. Ryan said the SEE framework was "actually created by our customers" who had been "overwhelmed" by the proliferation of data security choices on the market. The vendor community is still recovering from earlier setbacks when many "end-to-end" system packages failed to deliver as advertised.
In the SEE approach, "all requirements would be distilled to simple building blocks so that outsiders could be connected to networks in a secure way, to the extent that they are authorized, while keeping out those who are not wanted and protecting the mission-critical aspects of the business," Mr. Ryan said in an interview.
In its paper, Entrust says that by taking a business view -- not just a technology view -- of security, an organization involves all of senior management "in ensuring that the resources, technology, and processes are in place to embrace security." The benefits go beyond such security objectives as keeping hackers at bay; as transaction costs fall, business initiatives can be launched faster, and revenues should go up from a broader community of customers, according to Entrust. "Most companies have half to three-quarters of the elements they need" for network security, such as firewalls and anti-virus and intrusion-detection software, Mr. Ryan said. The SEE framework "brings it together. Typically what is needed to bring it all together is PKI."
Consulting and professional-services assistance are also key to SEE. PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte & Touche are among those that support Entrust installations and contributed to SEE.
"We see this as important for financial institutions searching for ways to increase revenues and both retain and grow their customer base," Mr. Heard said. "Bank of Bermuda embraced SEE for those reasons."
The bank recently announced its choice of Entrust's PKI for an international electronic commerce initiative. "They want to serve customers regardless of geographical area, time zone, or service requested," Mr. Heard said. "This is done in a way that protects critical business information while giving users controlled access to perform the transactions they desire."
Jim Haw, vice president of system security and standards at Mackenzie Financial, said: "As we allowed increased access to critical business information, issues of controlling access, management, and tracking of this information became vital. By leveraging Entrust's comprehensive suite of information security technologies, we generated optimum results for both the e-business and end-users."
Mr. Ryan said the timing is right for SEE, and PKI sales in general, as bankers complete year-2000 upgrade projects and turn their attention to the priority of electronic commerce.
He said: "What do you need to get there? Security. We have a framework available for turning it on in a safe and secure way."
In the process of year-2000 remediations, companies installed enterprise management programs from the likes of Siebel Systems, SAP, PeopleSoft, and Oracle. Mr. Ryan pointed out that all of these are "IP-enabled" -- compatible with the Internet protocol for customer communications and order fulfillment.
The upshot, he suggested, will be a blurring of distinctions between the Internet and its relatives, internal intranets and extranets for connecting with customers or trading partners. The vision is "one network, controlled by security, and integrated seamlessly," Mr. Ryan said.
Bank of Nova Scotia, one of Entrust Technologies Inc.'s longest-standing customers and a showcase application of digital certificates, said it is using Entrust public key infrastructure software in its e-Scotia.com subsidiary.
The Internet offshoot will act as a certificate authority as part of its electronic commerce service for businesses. The certificates would ensure secure e-mail, extranet access, bill presentment, and other transactions.
Bank of Nova Scotia has issued well over 200,000 certificates in its on-line banking service. It is believed to be largest certificate authority to date in the banking industry.
Entrust chief executive officer John Ryan said Scotiabank's "continuous technological evolution to on-line services, and now to the launch of e-Scotia.com, is helping carve new ground in Canada and globally, as trusted e-business becomes an economic reality."