E-Trade Group has bolstered the security of its on- line brokerage operation with Rainbow Technologies Inc.'s Cryptoswift II system, Rainbow announced.

Without this hardware-based method of accelerating cryptographic calculations, "a single Web server containing eight processors handled less than 20 simultaneous SSL customer sign-ons," said E-Trade information security director Cliff Reeser. He was referring to the Secure Sockets Layer cryptographic protocol that protects on-line sessions.

"With Cryptoswift II, the throughput increased to over a thousand transactions per second" and the processing demand on computers dropped by 94%, Mr. Reeser said.

A single Cryptoswift board, which Mr. Reeser said is worth more than $100,000 in server hardware, can handle up to 200 transactions per second and perform an RSA digital signature operation in 5 milliseconds, one-fifth what it would take on a Pentium II processor at 400 megahertz.

The program effectively improves server response time up to 90% by off- loading and accelerating public key cryptography.

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