PKWARE Sets SecureZIP Free with PartnerLink
Published: February 15, 2006
by Alex Woodie
Sensing that some of its largest customers weren't satisfied with the free Windows-based SecureZIP reader it launched in 2004, PKWARE this week unveiled a new product and a new licensing program it hopes will spur adoption of its cross-platform SecureZIP utility. In addition to being free to the partners of SecureZIP "sponsor" licensees, the new SecureLink product can generate protected documents, not just read them, and runs on all PKWARE-supported platforms, including Windows, Unix, Linux, iSeries, and mainframe servers.
PKARE had motivation to build on the introduction of SecureZIP, a utility designed to compress, encrypt, and distribute sensitive data and documents among heterogeneous partner networks. While the product worked across all major platforms, and enabled users to securely share documents no matter which version of SecureZIP they were running, some users had difficulty convincing their trading partners to use the free Windows-based reader, or to plunk down the cash for a full copy of SecureZIP.
"What we saw was a need in the business environment . . . to not only open and decrypt, but to create and exchange files, between business partners and their sponsor organization," says Barry Goss, senior vice president of alliances with the Wisconsin software company. "We couldn't constrain those partners to operating just on the Windows platform, so we started thinking, how do we take this concept of a reader, and up-market it, so it's available on all platforms, and it's not just a reader, but can write as well as read?" Goss says.
What PKWARE came up with is PartnerLink, a new product (actually, it's more of a creative new way of packing and distributing the existing SecureZIP product) that it is officially unveiling this week at the RSA Security conference in San Jose, California.
For a fee, a SecureZIP user can upgrade to the PartnerLink program, and become what PKWARE calls a sponsor organization. As a result, this sponsor organization can distribute as many copies of SecureZIP to as many partners as they like. These PartnerLink versions of SecureZIP can run on any supported platform, including OS/400, z/OS, Unix, Linux, and Windows, and these partners can also create and send their own SecureZIP documents, instead of just reading (through the free Windows-based reader) documents packaged by SecureZIP licensees.
The only catch is PartnerLink can only be used to create and distribute SecureZIP documents between a sponsor and its partners. PKWARE has baked into PartnerLink a digital signature that prevents the software from being used by anybody except the sponsor and the partners, and the partners can only use the software to communicate directly with its sponsor.
SecureZIP encrypts data using 3DES and AES algorithms, and uses either passwords or Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates for authentication. The software, which has embedded FTP and e-mail servers, can also be used to protect data stored to physical media, including tapes and optical media. Other goodies included with PartnerLink include a Web site for helping sponsors to distribute the software to its partners, and free technical support for sponsors and all of their partners.
PKWARE is charging a premium for participation in the PartnerLink program, and with good reason. The starting point for the PartnerLink program on the Windows-Linux-Unix version of the product costs about $30,000, while it starts at "just shy" of $80,000 for the iSeries and mainframe version. These are for the enterprise versions of the SecureZIP, which includes the Advanced Encryption Module (AEM) for PKI certificate-based authentication and a Director Integration Module for LDAP integration.