Security takes top billing at CeBIT

Better safe than sorry is the mantra for mobile manufacturers

Security, which could hold the key to securing consumer confidence in future mobile phones, is the first thing on manufacturer's minds at the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover this week.

The Irish-based computer security company Baltimore announced deals to secure the next generation of mobile Internet phones, running on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.

The technology, which has been used to secure Ericsson's flagship GPRS handset, the R520, was developed in cooperation with smartcard manufacturer Gemplus and AU-Systems, the software company behind Ericsson's WAP browser.

Ericsson R520 GPRS handsets will be secured with digital certificates, and encrypted keys will be used to guarantee the identity of phone users. A Wireless Public Key Infrastructure (WPKI) will coordinate the exchange and implementation of encryption keys.

Mobile manufacturers agree that while greater bandwidth may be the key to attracting consumers to Internet-enabled phones and PDAs, the security of these devices is also of paramount importance.

Given the limited success of WAP, manufacturers and mobile Internet companies, many of which hope to provide mobile e-commerce services, are hoping that GPRS will help establish Europe as a centre for economic prosperity amid dot-com downturn.

"Ericsson regards mobile e-commerce as one of the exciting new applications enabled by the combination of sufficient security levels in the phone and the greatly enhanced data transmission rates offered by GPRS," said Bo Albretson, marketing director for Ericsson Mobile Communications.

GPRS networks offer significantly more bandwidth than GSM, the current standard for mobile phones, which is currently estimated to deliver around 56kb/s instead of 9kb/s and uses the Internet Protocol (IP) backbone and packet-based communications.

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