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Next: 4.2.6 Money makes the Up: 4.2 A Tool to Previous: 4.2.4 Terisa is born

4.2.5 The clang of the cash register

A New Hampshire startup, NetMarket, began offering online services in the summer of 1994, selling products such as compact discs and flowers over the Internet. It claims to have conducted the first secured Mosaic transaction on August 10, 1994, using a secure version of X Mosaic that allows users to place orders. NetMarket's secure Mosaic uses PGP as the encryption code, which the company licensed from ViaCrypt.

Of course, relatively few end users are running X/Windows on Unix workstations. ``PGP is the solution we're doing now,'' said Dan Kohn, president of Net Market. ``It's technology we happen to like because it's cheap for providers and free for consumers.'' Kohn is open to adopting other standards more likely to be deployed for the masses as they evolve. ``The best model would be for firms offering online services such as ourselves to pay reasonable fees for server technology and for secure clients to be free.''

Another company working on secure Web client technology is Netscape Communications Corp., formerly known as Mosaic Communications Corp. The company, whose principals include Jim Clark (the founder of Silicon Graphics) and Marc Andreessen (the co-author of the original X Mosaic from NCSA), is developing commercial Web client and server products.

Netscape's approach to securing Mosaic also relies on RSA Data Security's public-key scheme, but its protocol enhancements differ from those proposed by Terisa Systems. It proposes to implement a Secure Socket Library to build a system it claims will be bulletproof. Netscape has announced a partnership with First Data Card Services, which is the world's largest credit-card authorization firm. Other partners include three banks: First Interstate, Old Kent, and Norwest Card Services.


next up previous
Next: 4.2.6 Money makes the Up: 4.2 A Tool to Previous: 4.2.4 Terisa is born
Denis Arnaud
12/19/1997