RSA Data Security Inc. said it has begun shipping JSafe, its tool kit for securing Java software applets.

RSA, the data encryption industry leader and a subsidiary of Security Dynamics Technologies Inc., announced in April its plan to develop JSafe. It said that if Sun Microsystems' Java programming language were to have a near-term impact on electronic commerce, then system developers would need a "turnkey solution" like JSafe to incorporate cryptographic algorithms and standard security protocols like the credit card industry's Secure Electronic Transactions, or SET.

The tool kit has been in test mode for eight weeks, said Gary Kinghorn, director of product marketing at Redwood City, Calif.-based RSA. Its availability was announced in conjunction with the Java Internet Business Expo this week in New York.

Like others who have worked with Java, Mr. Kinghorn said its ability to run on any computer operating platform makes it ideal for selling goods over the Internet.

"Sellers will have direct interaction with purchasers without knowing what platform they are using," Mr. Kinghorn said. "Because of the nature of the Internet and the need for platform-independence at the client level, Java is the only way to get that done."

He said he sees momentum building for Java, fueled by companies like Sun and Oracle Corp. that have "a vested interest in it" as an alternative to Microsoft's Windows platforms. But he added that the battle of computer industry titans is just getting started.

During the beta test phase, Mr. Kinghorn said, RSA worked with Sun's JavaSoft unit on an "SET cassette" for insertion into a virtual wallet. Other developers worked on JSafe with electronic mail and with SSL, the Secure Sockets Layer protocol.

Giga Information Group analyst Ira Machefsky said security is "a key hurdle" for Java and JSafe addresses it.

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