Adobe, GeoTrust Sign Up For Digital Certificate Solution

Adobe is set to begin shipping Tuesday a secure turnkey digital signature and certification solution for PDF documents. The new turnkey service, being unveiled in a partnership with digital certificate provider GeoTrust, is aimed at stopping the increasing amount of document forgery.

In fact, John Landwehr, group manager for security solutions and strategy at San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe, said the new technology will prevent scenarios such as the document forgery incident that led CBS news anchor Dan Rather to question President Bush's National Guard record.

If the National Guard documents were signed using the Adobe-GeoTrust solution, CBS News would have had a very "strong assurance" that they were not altered and were original, said Landwehr, who conceded that in the realm of security nothing is "100 percent."

The jointly developed Adobe-GeoTrust certified document solution, referred to as GeoTrust True Credentials, is being billed as the first public key implementation of digital signature technology for Adobe PDFs.

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The new service will initially be sold direct by Adobe and GeoTrust. Both companies, however, are putting together a program to sell the new solution through their respective channel partners. Executives said a channel program for the new offering should be hammered out in the next three to six months.

"This is a huge opportunity for channel partners," said Landwehr. "This is a growth opportunity for any solution provider that deals with high volumes of documents. This provides security for anyone doing PDF document publishing." He expects the solution to have strong traction in the government, legal, insurance and financial services markets.

The turnkey solution, which requires Adobe Acrobat 6.0, comprises Adobe LiveCycle Document Security software and GeoTrust True Credentials for Adobe Acrobat certificate offerings. A single-user, one-year signing credential provided on a cryptographic token is priced at $895. The volume pricing for True Credentials for Adobe Acrobat for a single enterprise is $7,750 for 10 users and $295,000 for a 1,000-pack.

Todd Barrett, networking sales manager at CPU Sales and Service, a Waltham, Mass., security solution provider, said security VARs are always looking for new "cutting-edge solutions that are priced right out of the gate or are much more competitively priced than what is out there.

"VeriSign and PGP have been the big players in that market," he said. "Neither one of them have been a good fit for our security practice. A new player has an opportunity to appeal to companies like CPU and widen their customer reach."

That said, the big obstacle for Adobe and GeoTrust is engaging specialty VARs to get to the huge number of small and midsize businesses that can benefit from the new technology, Barrett said.

"Nearly of all our customers are using PDFs for quoting, orders and all kinds of business correspondence," Barrett said. "This is a great potential solution for them. People are starving for security. It is going to require customer education and that is what the VARs are there for, educating their customers on what technology makes sense for them."