Verisign Inc., the digital certification company working closely with First Data Corp., Visa International, and others in the electronic commerce field, has formed a federal markets division.

The unit, based in Baltimore, will offer Verisign's Digital ID services to authenticate internal and external government communications over the Internet.

Nicholas Piazzola was named vice president of the Verisign division and James Brandt is director. Both are veterans of the National Security Agency-Mr. Piazzola spent 28 years in information security, most recently as chief of the network security group; Mr. Brandt was there 17 years and was active in public key infrastructure activities.

"Government authentication requirements are no different than any other industry looking for trust authentication services," said Edward A. Hart, a former National Security agency deputy director, now with Science Applications International Corp. "Verisign is setting the standard for trust on the Internet."

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