PKI (public key infrastructure), and PKA (PKI-enabled applications), Trusted Third Party, and Certification Authority are words on everyone’s lips in the world of e-commerce. Unfortunately, PKI/PKA products are not currently interchangeable, and different levels of security are available.
All that has meant a slower uptake of PKI products and services, a slower uptake of e-commerce, and consequently a lack of the resultant benefits that e-commerce can bring both to the individual enterprise, and to the European economy as a whole.
Aiming to address this issue is ‘The PKI Challenge’ which should provide a European and internationally agreed solution to the problem.
The PKI Challenge (pkiC) itself is a two-year project fully-funded by the European Commission, and organised by EEMA (the European Forum for Electronic Business), together with a consortium of 13 European organisations. It was officially started on January 1st 2001.
The project’s aim is to foster a secure e-commerce environment for users and service providers, through the enhancement of interoperability between a large variety of PKI (public key infrastructure) and PKA (PKI-enabled applications) technologies from the world’s major PKI/PKA vendors.
Through the PKI Challenge, a commonly agreed framework of interoperability criteria will be developed by the consortium team, other organisations supplying a PKI technology, users, academic institutions and other interested parties, against which an agreed number of different PKI/PKA products will be tested to prove interoperability.
Those products will then be shown to interoperate in public demonstrations, to be held at EEMA2002 (EEMA’s annual conference) in June 2002 and ISSE2002 (Information Security Solutions Europe) in September 2002. A report will be submitted to standardisation bodies and non-confidential information published in the public domain.
The project consortium members include KPMG (The Netherlands), Security & Standards (UK), Entegrity (UK), Belgacom (Belgium), SmartTrust (Sweden), Entrust (Switzerland), Makra (UK), University of Leuven (Belgium), University of Salford (UK), GlobalSign (Belgium), UK Post Office (UK), Baltimore (Ireland), Utimaco Safeware (Belgium).
Further information on pkiC can be found at www.eema.org/pki-challenge. Anyone interested in finding out more should contact Jane Hebson at EEMA by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone on +44 1386 793028.