VeriSign gathers Canadian affiliates

U.S.-based VeriSign Inc. is extending its digital certificate services to Canada through agreements with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), VPN Tech Inc. and LGS Group Inc.

According to Richard Yanowitch, executive vice-president of marketing for VeriSign in Mountain View, Calif., his company has a global strategy whereby it is operating almost entirely through trusted partners outside of the United States. The only country with a direct subsidiary is Japan, he said.

“The actual (Canadian) affiliates who will be providing our services are VPN Tech and CIBC,” Yanowitch explained. “LGS acts as a systems integrator that can pull together services from our affiliates plus other technologies and applications…and put it all together as a single package.”

Peter Ricciardi, general manager of electronic banking for CIBC in Toronto, said LGS is a systems integration partner for VeriSign but no partnership or affiliation has yet been established between the bank and the other Canadian partners.

VeriSign’s Yanowitch said he doubts CIBC and VPN Tech will see each other as competitors in their VeriSign offerings because they serve different markets.

“CIBC is very focused on financial services, everything from home on-line banking to on-line trading to on-line commercial banking to a number of other e-commerce financial services. They are our core partner to cover the financial markets in Canada,” Yanowitch said.

On the other hand, VPN Tech tends to focus more on commercial and government applications, particularly in French, Yanowitch said.

Quebec’s language laws are one legal reason for VeriSign to establish Canadian certificate authorities (CAs), but there is another, according to CIBC’s Ricciardi.

“There’s also pending legislation in Canada that would potentially create the opportunity for digital certificates and digital signatures to be binding in Canadian courts and governed by Canadian liability laws. As such, that would require that those certificates be issued through a Canadian certification authority,” Ricciardi said.

Currently, he said the Canadian market is served by VeriSign in the United States, and both CIBC and VeriSign see the presence of Canadian CAs as necessary in fostering e-commerce.

“That’s what we believe we can offer with our strengths together: providing a secure means of e-commerce for businesses and also providing controlled access for employee intranets or extranets. On the consumer side, we believe that we could develop the market in terms of providing the security and confidence that comes from knowing that those consumers are dealing with reputable on-line retailers” by issuing Web or corporate certificates that mark companies as trustworthy, Ricciardi said.

CIBC will offer Web server certificates, enterprise certificate products that allow companies to issue private or co-branded certificates to trading partners and employees, and consumer certificates. Ricciardi said pricing has not yet been set.

Yanowitch said both VPN Tech and CIBC will be offering VeriSign’s digital certificate products, including OnSite and Go Secure!

“Onsite is the core PKI platform. That provides the core 7-by-24 digital certificate services. Go Secure! then customizes those services for specific applications such as Microsoft Exchange, VPNs using Cisco or Check Point components, or for ERP applications such as SAP or PeopleSoft,” Yanowitch explained.