IBM to launch e-biz security chip

NEW YORK -- International Business Machines Corp. plans to launch Tuesday a security system that it hopes will set the industry standard for protecting confidential documents such as those used in the growing area of electronic commerce.

NEW YORK -- International Business Machines Corp. plans to launch Tuesday a security system that it hopes will set the industry standard for protecting confidential documents such as those used in the growing area of electronic commerce.

Unlike previous security measures that rely on software "firewalls" that filter out unauthorized users of information, IBM (NYSE:IBM) has developed a security chip embedded within the computer hardware, which, it says, adds additional levels of security.

"People from outside (of your organization) can get at your software," said Anne Gardner, general manager of desktop systems for IBM. "People from the outside can't get to your hardware."

A 'digital signature'
The first IBM computer to include the security chip will be the PC 300PL. The company plans to eventually include the security features in all of its products.

The chip will come installed in the hardware with no additional cost to the customer, Gardner said.

The features of the security chip include key encryption, which encodes text messages, and "digital signatures," which act as unique "watermarks" that identify the sender of the document.

"We want this to become an industry standard," IBM's Gardner said. "We want this on as many desktops as possible."

Increased focus on e-security
Asked if IBM would share the technology with competing hardware makers, she said, "You may see something along those lines in the future." She declined to be more specific.

"It's a good strategy not to try to clutch this technology and try to make money," said Roger Kay, an analyst at Framingham, Mass., consulting firm International Data Corp. "It's a good strategy to give it away and try to get as many people to go for it as possible. IBM doesn't want this to be proprietary. They want it to be ubiquitous."


'Over the next two years, you're going to see an increased focus on security as more people do business over the Web.'
-- Joseph Ferlazzo, VP Technology Business Research.

Kay called the development "a good first step" toward making people more comfortable doing business over the Internet.

"Over the next two years, you're going to see an increased focus on security as more people do business over the Web," said Joseph Ferlazzo, vice president of syndicated services for Hampton, N.H.-based consulting firm, Technology Business Research.

"It's essential to have a verifiable digital signature that will allow companies to engage in business transactions," he added. "What IBM is trying to do is make this an essential part of computer configurations going forward so that the capability will already be inside the computer."

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