PKWare Encrypts Compressed Files

.Zip file format pioneer is enabling users of its compression software to also add authentication and encryption.

PKWare Inc, the inventor of the .zip file format, is adding new security features to its compression technology.

This week the company made available Version 5.0 of its PKZip data compression software, which also enables users to assign a password for authentication or a digital certificate for encryption. It supports x.509 version 3 digital certificates with Public Key Infrastructure in partnership with security vendors RSA, Entrust, VeriSign and Baltimore.

Version 5.0 incorporates the Brown Deer, Wisc., companys 168-bit encryption algorithm. It can be integrated with Microsoft Corp.s Outlook 2000 e-mail client to provide automatic compression, digital signing and encryption of files., PKWare officials said.

In addition to reducing network bandwidth through compression, PKZIP 5.0 adds another level of security because it is more difficult for a hacker to crack open an encrypted file if it has been compressed, officials said.

PKZip 5.0 is sold in 2 versions, Standard and Professional. The Standard edition, which offers basic password authentication as well as compression, will be priced at $29.95 per seat after a special introductory price expires in 30 days. The Professional edition, which adds additional multi-level security, will be priced at $49.95 per seat after the special introductory price. Both are available on Windows platforms.

PKWare officials envision their zip utility becoming a more of a strategic corporate purchase than it is today. The thinking is that with the security features built in, the compression becomes even more attractive as a way to save corporate bandwidth.

To bolster this enterprise push, Version 6.0 of PKZIP, due by the end of the year, will add features that let administrators lock down encryption and authentication options for all user on the network, the officials said. PKWare is also offering a years worth of free real-time telephone and email support with PKZip 5.0