[31 January 2001] – Given the ease of anonymity and identity forging on the Net, many companies simply dont trust e-commerce. Moving to answer this need for trust, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) detailed their foray into the world of Trust Certification- beTRUSTed – at a function in Johannesburg today. Essentially, beTRUSTED is a Trusted Third Party (TTP) service operating under the PwC brand.
BeTRUSTed supplies digital certificates secured with public key infrastructure (PKI) technology. PKI is technology that works with 2 mathematically related keys- possession of 1 key allows you to decrypt anything thats been encrypted with the other. 1 of the keys is public, given to the world, the other remains private, kept in a secure location.
Digital certificates contain personal details, the trust level (e.g. was the certificate issued after meeting face-to-face or over the Internet?) and an expiry date, all encrypted by the public key so that only the private key can decrypt it. A TTP typically holds the private keys, decrypting certificates for verification.
Using a TTP digital certificate offers a variety of advantages to organizations operating on the Internet. Most importantly, it provides user authentication, user authorization and offers proof of request or purchasecountering later attempts by either party to repudiate the transaction.
Digital certificates can also be used within an organization, for example to set privileges for different employees, to track employee activities or to ensure the integrity of data by decrypting on demand. BeTRUSTed does allow companies to locally hold private keys for organizational use.
BeTRUSTed has allied with several companies among them Baltimore Technologies, Entrust Technologies and VeriCert to offer solutions across the scale. These could range from banks verifying the identity and credit rating of other banks for large-scale money transfers, organizations providing remote access to sensitive information or chemical wholesalers issuing legally binding digital invoices and receipts.
Whichever companies are involved, all services will fall under the beTRUSTed brand. A brand symbolizes a history of honourable trading and fair dealing. Indeed, it is the global strength of its brand that has enabled PwC to gather its allies and launch a venture to challenge the likes of VeriSign.
BeTRUSTed is currently aiming their services at businesses, either for use in the B2B environment or within the organization itself, but will move into the B2C and C2C market in the future. A future where, they believe, digital certificates will be as widespread as email addresses.