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VeriSign Simplifies Signatures

Internet trust services provider VeriSign Inc. Wednesday unveiled new technologies and services designed to deliver network-based digital certificates, digital signatures, private data storage and encryption.

VeriSign's technology recreates a strong secret key from a user password and other secret values, or fragments, distributed across multiple servers in highly-secure data centers operated by VeriSign and trusted third parties. The secret key can be regenerated by a Web-enabled device and then used to unlock other private keys, data, or to authenticate a user to a Web site. The key is erased after each session to ensure that follow-on users cannot recover it. To steal a key, a hacker would have to penetrate all of the servers in all of the data centers.

Ameritrade Holding Corp. will be the first company to jump on VeriSign's innovations, and will use the technology to issue digital certificates enabling online investors to digitally sign new account enrollment and SEC W9 forms online.

"Leveraging VeriSign's managed digital certificate services, customers can now authenticate themselves online, open accounts, quickly start trading -- from work, home or another place of their choosing," said James Ditmore, chief information officer of Ameritrade.

But VeriSign envisions a broader market for the new technology, with healthcare organizations, B2B exchanges and other service providers, and their customers, queuing up alongside financial institutions to use its services.

"As enterprises move mission-critical, high-value applications to the Internet, they are often forced to make trade-offs between security, privacy and end-user convenience," said Stratton Sclavos, president and chief executive officer of VeriSign. Sclavos said the new technology allows enterprises and end-users to bypass this hurdle.