The API will let users encrypt and decrypt messages, files, credit card details and other data. It will also support the creation and management of digital certificates and signatures. The technology is part of Microsoft Internet Security Framework (MISF).
"The main thing is it allows you to encrypt an app-let or ActiveX control and get it signed by an independent authority," said Mike Pryke-Smith, Internet tools manager at Microsoft. "It's pretty stringent so the owner of the control can protect his work and the user can protect himself. It makes users feel safer about downloading app-lets. It gives code a brand name. You'd rather buy from Marks & Spencer than some guy down the market."
The software is currently available on Microsoft's Web site for free downloading.