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PGP reborn makes its pitch for the mainstream

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Encryption products need to become as easy and transparent to use as AV software packages.

That's the goal of Phil Dunkelberger, President and CEO of PGP Corporation, who's over in London this week for the European launch of the newly-formed company.

PGP Corporation was created to market PGP Desktop and Wireless encryption products bought from Network Associates back in August. The deal ended month of speculation over the future of the technology following Network Associates' decision to mothball it back in March.

Network Associates canned development of PGP after failing to commercialise the package, which is well known to security conscious individuals. NAI said commercial sales were affected by the perception of PGP as a freeware only product.

PGP Corporation can succeed where NAI failed by being more focused on the development of the package, Dunkelberger told us. He added that NAI was always more focused on its McAfee antivirus and Sniffer network monitoring tools, whereas PGP Corporation's goal is to bring innovation to encryption.

Earlier this month, the beta of version 8 of PGP became available. This brought support for Mac OS X and (crucially) windows XP.

Integration with Lotus Notes (thanks to a server-side plug in) is much improved with this rev of the product, which is due for release later this quarter.

The source code of PGP 8.0 will be made available at that time, allowing cryptographers (including PGP inventor Phil Zimmermann, who does some consulting work for PGP Corporation) to review the security of the product. This is an important point, made more significant by Zimmermann's dispute with NAI (when it still owned PGP) over backing away from this commitment.

In the first five days after making the beta available the software was downloaded 30,000 times, according to PGP Corporation.

With PGP 8.0 there been a concerted effort to make the software easier to manage and administer. As well as the enterprise package, they'll also be PGP Personal, targeted at small business and individual commercial users and a freeware version for non-commercial use (to be made available from the PGP Web site).

Dunkelberger acknowledged factors like ease of us, deployment, manageability and the cost of rollout have held back the use of encryption products and hurt Public Key Infrastructure vendors.

Going forward, transparency of use and manageability will be a focus for PGP Corporation's development efforts. Dunkelberger pledged to deliver these benefits in the first half of next year.

That's a bold claim.

For the last five years, if not longer, we've heard claims that next year will be the year PKI technology goes mainstream. Every year we've been disappointed.

Maybe, just maybe 2003 will finally see this promise fulfilled. ®

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