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RealTime IT News

Australia Puts Baltimore in the Box Seat for Security

The Australian government confirmed Baltimore Technologies' first-mover advantage in the race to win government contracts to build a public key infrastructure for public sector transactions by awarding it the first official accreditation for its digital certificates.

Certificates Australia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Baltimore, was named as the first Certification Authority (CA) to be compliant with the federal government's Gatekeeper Standard by the Government Public Key Authority (GPKA).

Project Gatekeeper is the government's extremely long process for specifying how digital signatures and certificates should look, act and be handled to ensure electronic transactions with government agencies are legally sound.

The government said several agencies were discussing possible applications for the CA, including the Office for Government Online (OGO), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and employment agency Centrelink. The first Gatekeeper application is expected to be the ATO "roll out of Australian Business Numbers", according to OGO, followed by an electronic tax return lodgement service.

This latest win for Baltimore comes less than two months after it won the most prestigious account in the Australian finance industry, providing certification technology and services to the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA), a syndicate containing all the major banking institutions in the country.

Baltimore is the result of a merger last year of U.K. vendor Zergo and US-based developer Baltimore Technologies, with Intel retaining a minority shareholding.

Zergo merged earlier in 1998 with Security Domain, a Sydney start-up whose staff will be the main providers of services on the APCA implementation.

The other big winner out of the latest spate of announcements on Gatekeeper-related projects has been Secure Network Solutions, which has taken over the CA service abandoned by national postal carrier Australia Post, called KeyPOST, and was also a key partner for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in last week's launch of a secure electronic company registration service.

Notable absentees from these accounts have been Network Associates and Spyrus. Accreditation by the GPKA is now expected to be sought by Baltimore's competitors.