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VeriSign, Lotus in Encryption Pact

VeriSign Inc. and Lotus Development Corp. today announced they have teamed up to deliver enterprise commerce solutions that employ the strongest encryption technologies currently legally available for export.

The companies said the alliance, which was formed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce, is aimed at providing worldwide Lotus Domino Server customers with VeriSign 128-bit Global Server IDs.

U.S.-based companies employing Lotus Domino Servers or Domino Go Webservers, along with international banks that have servers in the U.S. and overseas, will have 128-bit encryption capabilities for conducting commerce over open networks.

In addition, the companies said that VeriSign's Global Server IDs will be deployed for international business-to-business, business-to-consumer, intranet, extranet, and virtual private network applications.

Under the new agreement, the VeriSign root key, which can be found in major browsers including Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer, will be able to identify that a Domino Server in use contains a Global Server ID. Upon the browser's confirmation of the ID, it will start a session using a higher encryption level, without key escrow.

However, according to VeriSign, if the server or client were to be in session outside the country and not using the new encryption technology, the security session would only be 40-bits at most, to keep within U.S. export laws.

It is only recently that export laws in the U.S. allowed greater than 40-bits of encryption to transmit outside the country. But according to cited experts, 40-bit encryption is easily cracked within hours.

"As enterprises increasingly take advantage of the convenience and cost-effectiveness of open networks to conduct business, Lotus is committed to providing our customers with unparalleled security for global communications and commerce," said Eileen Rudden, senior vice president, of Lotus' Communications Products Division. "VeriSign's proven expertise in certificate scalability, issuance and management will facilitate enterprise confidence in the Internet for global e-commerce applications."

The Verisign Global Server IDs for Lotus Domino and Domino Go Webserver customers will be available beginning May 21, 1998. To initiate the purchase process, Lotus customers can get a VeriSign Global Server Digital ID by going to the Global Server site.

The product will retail for $695 and will include Secure Server ID protection benefits. Future plans call for VeriSign Global Server IDs to be supported in forthcoming Domino Go Webserver releases.