Company wants to link homeland security, e-gov

Company wants to link homeland security, e-gov

One of the digital certificate suppliers for the Federal Bridge Certification Authority this month proposed linking homeland security to e-government via broad security policy mapping.

'You can't have national security without Internet security,' said Bill Conner, president and chief executive officer of Entrust Inc. of Dallas. 'The Net was the most reliable network after Sept. 11, the quickest way to disseminate information to employees and suppliers.'

Conner proposed building bridges that could map all participants' security policies and authenticate online queries'not only for federal users but also for state and local jurisdictions and health care organizations.

The scheme would encompass e-government transactions as well as cross-agency information queries. It would manage permissions for government portals, virtual private networks and e-mail.

The government's current bridge authority, which left the prototype stage in June, is hardly used, Entrust vice president Brian O'Higgins said. 'It's time to turn it on and use it.'

Context unknown

The FBCA, overseen by the Federal Public-Key Infrastructure Policy Authority, operates at a medium-assurance level. It can tell whether a certificate owner is permitted to access certain information but cannot judge the context'whether the person is using government information for unauthorized purposes, for example. More information about the bridge appears at www.cio.gov/fbca.

Entrust's proposed bridges would safeguard privacy rights by mapping individual agencies' security policies, Conner said.

The Entrust proposal might represent an overlay on the secure GovNet virtual private network envisioned by presidential cybersecurity adviser Richard Clarke, Conner said. Entrust's plan is not a part of any of the proposals for GovNet, he said.

Agency issuance of digital certificates is piecemeal so far. Agency self-certification efforts and proposals to make the Postal Service the nation's certification authority have not won wide acceptance.

But the Defense Department, General Services Administration, and Patent and Trademark Office each have issued thousands of digital certificates.

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