Sterling Commerce Inc. said it received U.S. government approval to export 128-bit encryption to financial institutions and subsidiaries of U.S. companies worldwide.

Like other recent approvals from the Department of Commerce, Sterling's permits international use of data codes far less prone to being broken than those historically licensed. Sterling had previously been able to export encryption with 56-bit keys, which were also considerably stronger than the 40-bit lengths that security experts view as too easy to decipher.

The specialist in business-to-business electronic commerce software has two 128-bit export licenses: one pertaining to use of its Connect:Conceal products for interbank and intrabank financial communications; the other to exchanges of proprietary information among international subsidiaries of U.S. corporations.

Steve Perkins, executive vice president and president of the communications software group, said the approval will help Sterling better serve its many multinational corporate and banking clients.

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