Israeli technology to secure U.S. youth chat rooms

Aladdin’s VP for Business Development Avishai Ziv – ‘We’re contributing in the effort to create a secure lifestyle for kids on the Web.’One of the growing fears of parents is the possibility that their children will encounter inappropriate material while …

Aladdin’s VP for Business Development Avishai Ziv – ‘We’re contributing in the effort to create a secure lifestyle for kids on the Web.’One of the growing fears of parents is the possibility that their children will encounter inappropriate material while surfing the Internet, particularly in chat rooms.

A unique American initiative, called I-Safe America, is utilizing Israeli-developed authentication technology in a nationwide effort to create secure chat rooms for children and adolescents. I-Safe, founded in 1998, provides Internet safety information and knowledge to students, parents and other community members.

Using Tel Aviv-based Aladdin’s secure eToken USB keys, the age and identity of participants in chat rooms can be confirmed in order to block out pedophiles and other sexual predators posing as youngsters. Aladdin’s eToken is a fully portable USB authentication device the size of an average house key, which offers a cost-effective method for user authentication when accessing a network, and for securing electronic business applications.

Aladdin became part of the project through its business partnership with American web security giant VeriSign, according to Aladdin’s VP for Business Development Avishai Ziv

“VeriSign is the biggest player in web-based digital identity and web security at large. They secure most of the websites in the world. And our eToken is part of their efforts to diversify into the consumer market,” Ziv told ISRAEL21c.

Aladdin recently announced it had extended its partnership agreement with VeriSign, allowing it to offer customers a two-factor Aladdin eToken USB one-time password (OTP) authentication device with VeriSign’s new unified authentication solution.

“We have a very close relationship; their CEO walks around with our token in his pocket,” said Ziv.

VeriSign and Aladdin are at the forefront of an effort to push the security industry away from proprietary technologies and towards open and interoperable standards for authentication, called OATH (Open Authentication Reference Architecture). At the core of the OATH system is Aladdin’s eToken, said Ziv.

Due to the innovative quality of the VeriSign-Aladdin partnership, i-SAFE America approached VeriSign to provide the tools to launch its program on web safety and responsibility.

According to Ziv, parents and teachers have great difficulty blocking problematic Web sites, since new ones are being created continuously. As a result, i-SAFE approached leaders in the web security field to attack the problem from creative angles.

“i-SAFE is dedicated to educate and empower our nation’s youth on safe and responsible cyber citizenship,” said Teri Schroeder, President of iSAFE America. “Just as we’ve been teaching kids about physical safety in the real world, we need to help them be safer in the online world. It is imperative that we give our youth the tools to be proactive cyber citizens while communicating with others in cyber space. i-SAFE`s relationship with VeriSign has empowered i-SAFE to bring these tools to our young people and set a firm foundation for a culture of incorporating these tools into their daily lives.”

“iSAFE America recruited VeriSign which turned it into a major project, and brought in Aladdin,” explains Ziv. “We contribute the technology, and our eTokens are branded with the i-SAFE logo. We’re contributing in the effort to create a secure lifestyle for kids on the Web.”

A consortium formed by i-SAFE, which includes VeriSign, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL, with support from the U.S. Congress, is planning to implement the project nationwide with 50-60 million youth participating.

“We’re now negotiating terms to enable Aladdin to become a full partner in the consortium rather than a shadow partner. We’re an essential part of the project,” said Ziv.

Founded in 1985, Aladdin has become a leader in digital security, providing solutions for software commerce and Internet security, serving over 30,000 customers worldwide. In addition to the eToken device for user authentication and e-commerce security; Aladdin’s products include the eSafe line of content security solutions that protect PCs and networks against malicious, inappropriate and nonproductive Internet-borne content; HASP and Hardlock, hardware-based software security systems that protect the revenues of developers; and Privilege, a software licensing and distribution platform.

“In the field of smart card devices aimed at authentication and encryption, Aladdin is a world leader. This is a young market, but we’re not a young company. We’ve been around since 1985, we’re NASDAQ issued since 1993, and we were one of the first Israeli companies to undergo an IPO,” said Ziv, adding proudly that all of the company’s hardware and software is totally developed and manufactured in Israel.

With the i-SAFE program about to get off the ground, Ziv said that the next major obstacle is how to get the eTokens into the hands and computers of American parents.

“A major concern for i-SAFE is how to distribute the tokens to American households. They want free distribution through the school system, but each token costs upwards of $50. Although many parents have expressed willingness to pay that amount, i-SAFE wants it to be distributed free of charge,” said Ziv.

“Congress has provided initial allocations of $4 million, and AOL and Microsoft will also contribute. They’re also looking for sponsorships from corporate America – for instance the idea of having McDonalds put their brand on the eToken and distributing them through their stores through some promotion.”

Whatever distribution method is chosen, American parents will have the option of enabling their children to use the Internet safely. And that’s what the i-SAFE project is all about. And Ziv is proud of the fact that Aladdin and Israel can play a part in bringing the dream to reality.

“The issue is not to block the Internet, but to create safe havens for kids,” said Ziv.
“There’s so many offensive sites; it would be easy to just block out everything, but if you can create a safe island that kids can access, you know they’ll be protected.”