Microsoft Acquires Canadian Smart-Card Security Company

Microsoft says the purchase will make customers better able to take advantage of the smart-card capabilities in Windows.

Microsoft Corp. bolstered its security hardware holdings Monday by announcing it has acquired digital security company Alacris Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

Alacris, a privately held, Ottawa-based company founded in 1998, builds integrated management systems using PKI (public key infrastructure), smart-card deployments and biometrics for large commercial and government organizations that employ Windows-based systems.

PKI uses public and private cryptographic keys and digital certificates to securely encrypt messages and data over public networks.

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Alacris non-government customers are mainly in the pharmaceutical, health care, banking and securities, and insurance sectors. The companys core technology helps IT departments streamline the provisioning of new smart cards and the configuration of existing smart cards. The technology also provides Web-based policy-driven workflow management that helps users manage their administrative and end-user experiences, the company said.

"Customers have told us that smart cards are becoming an increasingly important part of their authentication and authorization strategy," said Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the security technology unit at Microsoft. "Through this acquisition, were excited to gain technology that makes it easier for customers to take advantage of the smart-card capabilities in Windows with tools to simplify smart-card life-cycle management."

Windows uses smart cards and other authentication technologies on the desktop through its Active Directory and Microsoft Certificate services. However, enterprise customers are still have problems with the complexity of provisioning smart-card hardware, deploying digital certificates, managing certificate revocation, and auditing IT pro and end-user activity, the company said.

Alacris co-founders Ron MacDonell and Conrad Bayer currently serve as president/CEO and vice president/CTO, respectively.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...