Brisbane lab meets RSA's global market

The RSA laboratory in the outskirts of Brisbane are as much an ambassador for Australian/American relations as they are a hardcore cryptographic centre.

The staff in Brisbane out number RSA's Silicon Valley staff by four to one and are directly responsible for producing the secure cryptographic toolkits such as the Bsafe cryptographic, certificate and SSL toolkits.

The developer services group (DSG) of RSA labs requires 40 engineers in Brisbane, ten in Silicon Valley and at the head of it all with the task of making it work is Glenn Dickman.

Dickman, director of engineering, DSG, said what they chiefly do in Brisbane is bridge the gap between mathematics and practicality to provide usibility.

What is equally important is that they implement the technology in a practical way and come up with algorithms that are neither insecure, nor work too slow.

"Implementation is a different kettle of fish," Dickman said.

"As an engineer, the mathematics side comes up with the algorithm and we make them useable-we implement them in software and hardware and optimise it for process and process architecture.

"The major issue for engineering is to make sure we keep developing secure cryptographic toolkits that conform with respect to functionality and go through FIPS compliance effectively.

"They must adhere to the process that allows cryptographic algorithms to be accredited and sold to the US government - and a major advantage of that is that we [RSA Security] go through FIPS protocols constantly in a rolling basis to make sure we keep up with accreditations."

According to Dickman, the market for toolkits such as Bsafe, certificate and SSL are relatively small, with demand for RSA products and cryptographic technologies larger in Europe and the US than in Australia.

Dickman added that while most toolkits are developed in Australia the demand comes from overseas and has steadily declined in Australia over the past four to five years, however is expected to turn around in Australia soon.

"The tech wreck in 2001 knocked the stuffing out of IT worldwide and a lot of companies have been in the market for toolkits since the beginning of last year but cryptography in general does not grow to reach demand, it seems like a private entity of itself."

The reputation Brisbane has for IT innovation and security is one reason RSA chose to house their laboratories there. That, combined with the fact that Queensland University and the University of Technology, Queensland have strong Masters in IT security programs have earned Queensland the reputation of the smart state and is now considered by many as the 'security centre of Australia' Australia-wide, according to Dickman.

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