One of the major barriers to smooth and cost-effective deployment
of digital certificate-based security has been pushed aside by a
team working for UK trust services provider Royal Mail ViaCode.
A unique Java-based applet allows, for the first time, remote
diagnosis of client installations - enabling help-desk staff to
rapidly resolve failed or flawed digital certificate
Now being deployed by ViaCode in the UK, the applet is expected to
deliver a major boost in customer satisfaction.
"Globally, big price tickets and high cost of ownership are two
prime reasons why the level of in-house PKI deployments has failed
to keep up with analyst and vendor expectations," says ViaCode
managing director Jim Pang.
"For the cost of an in-house solution a company could use ViaCode
for 30 years. But we've always felt we needed to do more than
simply offer an easily understood, cost-effective model.
"Our Java applet goes a long way towards balancing the support
equation too. It enables us to hand-hold even the most timid of PC
users so that they quickly get a working implementation. We
believe that by making certificate-based security both affordable
and approachable we're unlocking the huge potential in this
Ross Patel, head of encryption technology at ViaCode, says user
security was a foremost design goal. "It would have completely
undermined the whole ViaCode proposition if we'd developed
something that left users exposed. So there is no examination or
manipulation of personal data. Information that the applet gathers
is encrypted and contains nothing that can uniquely identify a
user to anyone other than our support team."
Customers access the applet through the ViaCode customer support
Web site. They see a dialogue box explaining what the applet does
before being invited to click a button to accept. Taking less than
a minute to download over a 28k analogue connection, and using no
memory-intensive routines, the applet searches for an installed
ViaCode certificate before using it to encrypt, sign, decrypt and
verify a randomly generated data set.
The applet then generates a report and automatically sends it as
an HTML mail file to ViaCode customer support, at the same time
displaying on-screen for the customer a high-level explanation of
what it found. Fail-safe routines operate in the event of a
dropped Web connection.
"Getting quality information quickly is always one of the major
challenges for any customer support operation, particularly when
you're shielding customers from the underlying complexity of the
technology," says Pang. "Now we can go straight to the heart of a
problem and get our customers operational in double-quick time."
ViaCode uses the world's most proven and
widely-deployed public key infrastructure (PKI), operated to
standards that set a new international benchmark for thoroughness
and integrity. ViaCode digital certificates are valuable and
credible. Issued only after rigorous proof of identity, they are
instantly revocable with immediate system-wide effect.
For further information visit the website http://www.viacode.com
ViaCode encryption uses full-strength 128-bit cryptography. A
secure key-backup and recovery facility means critical
information, previously encrypted, is not lost in the event of a
certificate being damaged or mislaid. Separate key pairs for
encryption and signing mean ViaCode digital signatures are
A concise overview of the technology, security policies and
procedures underpinning ViaCode is available on request.
- ENDS -
Further editorial information:
Royal Mail ViaCode:
Alison Ingleby - 020 7847 3391
Kevin Fiske - 0118 9344007
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