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February 17, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Dublin, Ireland-based Celo Communications, which started life as a five-person security consultancy in Sweden, is settling into new offices in Mountain View, California as part of the grand scheme to become a global provider of security software to e- commerce outfits. The company started when the five founders became interested in an Australian freeware implementation of secure sockets layer (SSL). The same software became famous when RSA Data Security Inc made it the basis of its Australian subsidiary earlier this year (CI No 3,570). By then, however, Celo had moved on from straight encryption products, believing that what customers wanted was a turnkey system which they could use to integrate their legacy applications. The result of that insight is CeloCom Enterprise, a suite of PKI products built for use in e-business applications. Even as Celo, now established in Europe where it is competing hard against Siemens and Bull, set its sights on the North American market, RSA announced its own such suite, Keon. Celo CEO Sven Hammar is unfazed by the competition. He believes his company’s product complements Keon. He says the suites overlap but each offers something the other doesn’t have – Keon a certificate authority in the shape of VeriSign’s OnSite, and CeloCom Enterprise an integrated package for adding digital signatures to existing applications. Besides, the fact that RSA itself is now emphasizing application security over plain old encryption just proves Celo’s case, Hammar observes. It’s a small victory for us, he says. Hammar says application level security calls for two things: bulletproof authentication, which Celo provides through the X.509 standard, and legally binding transactions, achieved through digital signatures based on that authentication. The implication is that RSA will have to add digital signatures to Keon sooner or later anyway. Either way, Keon helps raise awareness of Celo’s product niche. We have a fairly good relationship with RSA, Hammar says, they will open up the market for us. And since Celo has a shipping product, time to market is on the newcomer’s side.

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