Hewlett-Packard Co. has introduced software designed to make it easier to grant secure information access to individuals outside an organization, such as customers, partners, suppliers, and employees.

The HP Praesidium Authorization Server identifies users and imposes rules for who can have access to data. It can protect content traveling across corporate intranets, extranets, and the Internet.

"Many customers have been screaming for this," said Jim Hurley, managing director of the information security practice at Aberdeen Group in Boston.

Sitting on a Web server at an end-user location, the software inspects the contents of Web forms and confers access privileges that have been set by the organization.

For example, a trading floor might impose a security rule that authorizes junior traders to deal in amounts of less than $100,000.

The controls let the World Wide Web be used "for trading and high-value business customers who wish to exchange funds or see if checks have cleared," said Cyndi Nickel, business planning manager of Hewlett-Packard's Internet security operation.

Rules governing access can be quickly added, updated, or deleted to accommodate variations such as temporary workers.

NationsBank Corp. is piloting a version of the system.

Ted Julian, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., said Hewlett-Packard's program is "interesting, (but) not revolutionary. This announcement represents an incremental step forward for the category."

Among those competing with the Authorization Server are enCommerce Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Netegrity Inc. of Waltham, Mass., said Bill Sudlow, Hewlett-Packard's senior engineering director of Internet security products.

In January the Silicon Valley company established its Internet software business unit, which includes Internet security. The $43 billion computer company employs 1,200 in its software division.

As more applications become exposed to the Internet, security has become a "pretty hot category," said Mr. Julian. "There are not a ton of players out there and no one has an established position, so this is an opportunity for HP to sink its teeth into that market segment."

The Authorization Server runs on HP-UX, Hewlett-Packard's Unix operating system, and a Windows NT version is under development. It can also be integrated with OpenView, Hewlett-Packard's network management software.

That integration could ensure success for Hewlett-Packard in the security realm, Mr. Julian said. "We believe HP should closely tie its security products with the OpenView management platform. In theory, this could be the foundation to make the security business at HP a huge one."

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