RSA Security updates PKI suite

RSA Security announced an updated version of its public-key information software suite, adding ease-of-use features such as self-service registration for digital certificates and a recovery process for lost or damaged encryption keys.

The PKI suite, Keon 6.0, contains a certificate authority, a security server, desktop software, and a Web browser plug-in called Keon WebPassport. The suite allows administrators to issue digital certificates to secure applications. A digital certificate is a type of electronic credential that links an individual's identity to a pair of encryption keys used to sign, encrypt, decrypt or check the integrity of files and e-mail.

The changes in the latest version of Keon, which will ship by the end of this month, are wide-ranging. For instance, the RSA Keon WebPassport now has a default timeout for its use, which is important to satisfy one of the requirements made by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Another change in the RSA Security PKI suite is that it can be set up to provide Web-based self-service enrollment for issuing digital certificates, so an automated process can be put in place to link back-end databases storing information about applicable users and authentication data.

"When you download your credentials, we also have a 'trust list' of public-key certificates that your company trusts," said Brian Breton, RSA's product marketing manager for Keon. "This can be very helpful in a business-to-business environment."

An administrator can also recover lost or damaged encryption keys used by the Keon Desktop software through the Keon Certificate Authority. RSA is basing the key-recovery capabilities largely on those provided in the PKI products from XCert, which RSA purchased.

According to Certeca, a Caymann Islands-based company that issues certificates for financial firms, the latest version of Keon appears to add some improvements that the firm, which uses RSA, had wanted.

"Some of our clients do care about key-recovery," commented Certeca Chief Technology Officer Matthew Barnett. "But for us a big concern is 'hot backup,' which is replicating the software at alternative sites as a backup." This is not easy to do with PKI, he noted, but RSA Security appeared to have improved on this a lot in the latest version.

Keon Desktop, which is bundled with Keon Server, costs US$75 per user. The Keon Certificate Authority costs $30 per user, and Keon WebPassport costs $40 per user.

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