Digital Enterprises locks up the dataMention data security...


April 19, 1993|By Steve Auerweck | Steve Auerweck,Staff Writer

Digital Enterprises locks up the data

Mention data security and most people think of Tom Clancy or the National Security Agency. But a customer list or pricing information might be as valuable to a corporate foe as stealth bomber plans are to a foreign spy.

In Gaithersburg, Digital Enterprises Inc. has just released an assortment of products aimed at computer managers, from the military to medical institutions.

The introduction includes:

* Digital ProLock and Digital ProLock LAN. Engineering Vice President Jim Young says that the inch-square custom circuits are installed on disk controllers, network cards and the like. Data stored on the disk or sent over the net can be read only by a similar machine.

* Netlock Secure Ethernet Card. A PC add-in card encrypts data moving over an Ethernet. It even allows separate codes by group.

* Digital Deadbolt and Digital Deadbolt Modem. They challenge users with a 10-digit number. To gain access, one must provide the correct response from a credit-card-sized "keypad." Each use generates a new pair of numbers.

"To date our single biggest interest has been from the military," Young said. Military users are concerned, he said, because "they have these optical drives coming in [that] you can put three or four hundred megabytes on. You can also walk out with three or four hundred megs."

Another likely buyer: banks. "Money gets stolen [via computer] from the banks every day," Mr. Young said.

The products grew from a project for the medical community, inspired by a Food and Drug Administration rule that requires makers of health care computer systems to show how their products prevent data corruption from endangering patients. But hospitals are also concerned about patient privacy and about being able to prove that digital records from scanners, for example, have not been altered.

Mr. Young touted the products as far more secure than the government-sanctioned Data Encryption Standard (DES), a software scheme. "We all know you can break DES with a couple PCs and a few minutes." (Others would contest that.)

ProLock products cost about $300 per disk drive, etc., installed. The company is betting that buyers will find it a low price to pay for peace of mind.

Tracor is awarded $18 million Navy job

Tracor Applied Sciences Inc., headquartered in Rockville, has won a four-year, $18.3 million contract from the Navy for support of air traffic control and landing systems.

The award from the Patuxent Naval Air Test Center will mean 20 to 30 new jobs for the company, which has about 770 workers at its center in California, Md.,and about 1,300 elsewhere, according to Marian Kelley, a spokeswoman for parent company Tracor Inc. of Austin, Texas.

"We have been providing support to the Air Traffic Control Division . . . for more than 19 years," K. Bruce Hamilton, president of Tracor Applied Sciences, said in a statement. "This contract is a significant expansion of our core business in that area." The Air Traffic Control Division is in St. Inigoes, also in St. Mary's County.

The Tracor unit will provide technical support to ships and shore installations worldwide, as well as systems development, testing and training.

ChipSoft to merge with Meca Software

It was easy to overlook amid the last-minute rush to get your tax forms in the mail, but ChipSoft Inc. quietly announced last week that it will pay $58 million to merge with Meca Software Inc.

ChipSoft produces the best-selling TurboTax software packages; Meca makes Andrew Tobias' Tax Cut for IBM PC-compatibles and Macintoshes.

Together, they've dominated the market. As Peter Lewis of the New York Times wrote, "As in years past, the choice for most PC owners ultimately comes down to two packages."

ChipSoft said last Monday that stockholders representing 50.5 percent of Meca's outstanding common shares had agreed to tender their shares. It planned to begin a tender offer for all the shares.

ChipSoft said the purchase will result in a charge of $20 million to $25 million against its earnings.

Computer TV network to debut May 17

Bleary-eyed from hours of programming followed by a marathon at the controls of F-15 Strike Eagle III? Need to settle down and relax? How about a few hours of TV -- watching the Jones Computer Network?

The new channel from Jones International Ltd. will go on-line for two to three hours daily beginning May 17. At first, it will be part of the Mind Extension University network, which was founded by company President Glenn R. Jones in 1987. By next year, JCN should expand to 24 hours a day on its own channel.

Programming on the advertiser-supported channel will range from reviews and computer news commentary to shows leading to certificates or degrees.

JCN has formed an alliance with Redgate Communications Corp., which will provide programming and help to identify program providers and sponsors.

The Mind Extension University network is carried on Baltimore's cable system as well as those in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

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