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VeriSign Offers 128-bit Encryption To Hong Kong Web Broker

Boom Securities Ltd., Hong Kong's first online broker, has acquired 128-bit encryption ability through a special program provided by California-based VeriSign, Inc., according to Boom's chief executive officer, Mark Duff.

128-bit encryption is the highest form of online security available and, outside of the United States, it is difficult to get because of the U.S. government's strict export laws concerning the technology.

"What we have just done is gone out and bought a full metal jacket for every message we send," said Duff.

"Research has shown us that a lot of potential consumers [in Hong Kong] are reluctant to use the Internet for financial transactions," added Duff. "What we've done to dilute their concerns is buy the highest level of security encryption on the market."

"This is monumental because the U.S. Government has classified the security encryption as strategic."

It is allegedly the first utilization of 128-bit encryption by a Hong Kong company.

The use of the technology is possible through a U.S. Department of Commerce interim rule (RIN 0694-AB80) that amends the controls on certain exports and re-exports of encryption commodities and software.

One of provisions in the rule (3e) permits export of encryption technology of any key length for online merchants in all countries except Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

According to the provision, ". . .such commodities and software must be limited to client-server applications (e.g., Secure Socket Layer (SSL) based applications) or applications specially designed for on-line transactions."

This allows VeriSign and other American security vendors to provide 128-bit SSL sessions to foreign companies like Boom Securities.

Through its Global Server ID program, VeriSign provides this service to companies with Netscape Communicator Clients or configured Microsoft Internet Explorer Clients.

In October of last year, Novell, Inc. received special permission from the U.S. Government to export its BorderManager Virtual Private Network with 128 Bit Encryption.