Cylink Corporation today announced that its SAFER+ encryption algorithm is being used for user authentication within Bluetooth, a protocol that is rapidly growing in use for wireless communications.
More than 1,700 companies support the Bluetooth protocol. With Bluetooth-enabled devices, a wireless personal area network (PAN) for mobile commerce can easily be created using peripheral devices, notebooks or handheld computers, smart telephones, and even vending machines.
The SAFER+ algorithm is one section of the Bluetooth protocol. The algorithm enables one user to send a test message to a recipient for encryption and compare the returned encrypted message with his own encryption of the test message.
A perfect match verifies the recipient's authenticity.
"The strength of Bluetooth-enabled products is that they automatically sync up with all other Bluetooth devices within 10 yards to provide on-the-fly networking and communications," said Paul Mason, group vice president of Infrastructure Software Research for IDC. "However, this makes all data on the products - including the most sensitive information - freely available to other Bluetooth users. The SAFER+ algorithm provides the authentication critical to keeping this information secure."
The announcement coincides with the expiration of the patent covering the algorithm popularly known as RSA. That patent expiration is expected to bring benefits similar to those the security industry saw when Cylink released its SAFER algorithm into the public domain in 1993.
SAFER+ is a royalty-free, non-proprietary enhancement of the SAFER algorithm with improved performance and increased security.
Not long after Cylink's release of the enhanced SAFER+ algorithm in 1998, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), an alliance of leading telecommunications, computing, and network companies including 3Com, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Toshiba, began developing its short-range wireless networking specification using the algorithm.