Exostar uses VeriSign technology to help secure Internet communications

Nov. 1, 2003
Officials at Exostar, the aerospace and defense e-business tools provider, are employing Intelligence and Control Services from VeriSign in Mountain View, Calif., to increase the security of their ForumPass Internet communication environment.

By John McHale

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Officials at Exostar, the aerospace and defense e-business tools provider, are employing Intelligence and Control Services from VeriSign in Mountain View, Calif., to increase the security of their ForumPass Internet communication environment.

These services enable information experts to assess, monitor, manage, and respond to security threats by combining real-time information, analysis tools, and around-the-clock monitoring and support of complex networks, VeriSign officials say.

This approach enables businesses to make the most of their investments, improve staff efficiency, and rank security activities and investments according to business risk, company officials say.

"Our customers require that Exostar solutions are military-grade security and we can't afford to cut corners," says Jeff Nigriny, chief security officer at Exostar. "Together with VeriSign's Security Intelligence and Control Services, we're able to provide a state-of-the-art collaboration platform for aerospace and Department of Defense partnerships."

Exostar connects manufacturers, service providers, suppliers, and customers in a secure virtual environment for collaboration, sourcing, and procurement. Exostar's founding partners are BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Rolls-Royce.

ForumPass systems reside in a commercial data center built to specifications of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility standards set by the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Security Agency.

The founding partners of Exostar worked together to develop security requirements for ForumPass. One requirement is for ForumPass to protect member identities and access privileges and ensure that unauthorized users may not apprehend data.

"When our aerospace and defense customers approached us to create a collaboration environment with military-grade application security, the partner of choice to develop identification and certification component was simple: VeriSign," says Ludo Van Vooren, vice president of marketing and business development at Exostar. "Today, our partnership is being used at over 60 customer sites on programs ranging from weapons systems to commercial airplanes." Exostar provides a state-of-the-art collaboration application, and VeriSign is the primary conduit in the certificate industry, he adds.

For example with VeriSign's digital certificates and encryption users can ensure that "Bob is who he says he is, not just someone using Bob's password," Nigriny says.

"As a provider of Internet infrastructure services, VeriSign has unique visibility into security patterns and trends," says Judy Lin, executive vice president at VeriSign "By operating the global domain name systems resolution infrastructure and over 28 percent of North American e-commerce, we are seeing useful and interesting correlations between transaction fraud and network attacks, as well as infestation patterns of recent worms such as Sobig.F. We are adding this data to the ISAAC platform and making it available to our enterprise customers."

VeriSign offers a series of Security Intelligence and Control Service that protect critical resources and anticipate potential threats to security before they occur, VeriSign officials say. VeriSign monitors the 13 Internet root servers and maintains close ties with the White House in the event of suspicious activity, company officials say.

VeriSign's Managed PKI services allow companies to manage the distribution of 128-bit digital certificates that authenticate identity and encrypt data. PKI stands for public key infrastructure. VeriSign's encryption keys comply with Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2.

What makes ForumPass original, Van Vooren says, is the way in which the system provides end-to-end encryption. "ForumPass is the temporary recipient of all data before the true intended recipient logs in and gains access to it."

With such an architecture in place, users can exchange data with many users because ForumPass checks the identity of each user. Van Vooren says that ForumPass is currently the only collaboration service to offer this type of end-to-end encryption, and says he thinks it may be the only web-based application of any type to do so.

Solutions such as ForumPass not only can reduce the costs of travel, but also project lifecycle times. "By dramatically reducing paper, fax, and telephone volume," he says, "ForumPass helps free up internal resources and creates better integration between engineering, manufacturing, and business environments."

Exostar founding partner Rolls-Royce used ForumPass when the company designed and built the Trent 900 engine for the Airbus A380 commercial airplane. Rolls-Royce officials wanted to use ForumPass to share logistical and proprietary engineering information with their global technology partners and suppliers. Previously, Rolls-Royce shared this type of data over e-mail, traditional mail, and fax, but ForumPass is enabling faster, more seamless communication.

Rob Savidge, chief engineer of the Trent 900 engine program, says he believes that ForumPass is a strategic part of the success of the Trent 900 program because it helped partners and suppliers collaborate on the engine's design. "I am confident that the benefits declared as part of this program are already being realized," he says.

At first, Rolls-Royce officials wanted to use ForumPass to help share logistical and proprietary engineering information internally with the company's global technology partners and suppliers, Exostar officials say. Sharing that type of data previously by e-mail, fax, or express-shipped CDs often delayed projects.

For more information on VeriSign see www.verisign.com. For more information on Exostar go to www.exostar.com.

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