Valicert Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., announced cooperation agreements Monday with four international information security companies, a sign of the rapid spread of digital certificate technology in foreign markets.

Valicert, which supports the part of the certificate process known as validation, has forged alliances with such U.S.-based vendors as Entegrity Solutions Corp., Entrust Technologies Inc., GTE Internetworking, Intel Corp., and Netscape Communications Corp.

But Valicert and its marketing partners are encountering considerable demand for certificate services elsewhere, particularly in Europe, said Yosi Amram, president and chief executive officer.

Underlining that trend, Valicert is establishing or expanding relationships with four companies that are selling digital certificate products and are based in other countries: Baltimore Technologies of Ireland and the United Kingdom, GlobalSign of Belgium, Thawte Certification of South Africa, and Software Agencies Australia, which is known as SAA.

Mr. Amram said the deals are the fruit of a marketing effort led by Alexander Garcia-Tobar, vice president of international. The two previously worked together at another Silicon Valley venture, Individual Inc. Mr. Garcia-Tobar more recently was the architect of Forrester Research Inc.'s international expansion.

His arrival at Valicert last summer was timely, Mr. Amram said, because Europe's digital certificate and public key infrastructure market "is neck and neck with, if not ahead of, the United States in terms of adoption and development."

"Culturally, the Europeans are more security- and privacy-conscious," he said. "They are further along with smart cards, which creates a good foundation for a certificate-based infrastructure and applications."

And in the Asia-Pacific region, countries such as Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore have launched large-scale public key infrastructure (PKI) and electronic commerce initiatives.

Valicert expects its validation business to grow hand-in-hand with digital certificates, which are data encryption-related credentials for authenticating parties in an electronic transaction. Valicert sells the concept of a validation authority, or VA. It would complement the certificate authority, or CA, which is gaining credence through the efforts of companies like Baltimore, Entrust, and Verisign Inc.

Valicert promotes a technique for ascertaining a certificate's validity- assuring that it is not expired or revoked-called a certificate revocation tree. But the company's products also support OCSP-on-line certificate status protocol-and the certificate revocation list, or CRL, approach.

"Valicert is the recognized leader in digital certificate validation, and we felt confident in completely outsourcing our global validation requirements to them," said Thawte president and CEO Mark Shuttleworth.

With the Valicert Global VA service, he said, customers will be assured of "complete validation integrity" while Thawte can "differentiate its service and focus on its core business of certification."

Mr. Amram said Thawte, No. 2 to Verisign in issuing certificates under the Internet's popular SSL security protocol, is well advanced in cross- certification among different CAs. That could be a boon to Valicert as well.

GlobalSign, formerly Belsign, is No. 3 in public SSL certificates. It will be a Valicert distributor, use Global VA with a CRL system, and bring Valicert into its GlobalSign Ready interoperability program. GlobalSign CEO Anthony Belpaire said the choice of Valicert "is the first step in ensuring that our customers will have instant access to the best validation products on the market.

SAA will be a Valicert distributor for Australia and New Zealand, which Mr. Garcia-Tobar described as "important emerging markets for PKI."

Valicert contributes to SAA's strategy of providing "leading-edge electronic commerce solutions with a universal, scalable family of products," said SAA managing director Bob White.

Baltimore "is licensing and embedding our tool kit and using our VA server as their validation solution," Mr. Amram said. One of the fastest- growing certificate companies, Baltimore was named with GlobalSign as CA subcontractors for a major European Union commerce project coordinated by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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