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Japan seeks higher mobile phone security

Posted: 25 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile phone? mobile phone security? NICT? NTT Docomo? Hitachi?

A coalition of government, industry and research organizations in Japan has proposed the adoption of a common platform based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) authentication for higher security on mobile phone networks, bypassing ID- and password-based security.

The group announced Jan. 23 that it has developed the technology with the aim of providing a common platform for secure mobile phone communications in Japan. The group comprises the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), the mobile IT Forum (mITF), Hitachi, NTT Docomo, KDDI R&D Laboratories and NEC Corp.

Hitachi, Docomo, KDDI and NEC have been working for three years to develop the mobile-security technology, funded with about $5 million from NICT. Docomo and KDDI, the top two carriers in Japan, worked to prepare standard, interoperable authentication certificates. Hitachi and NEC provided technologies that solve mobile phone-specific problems such as authentication interruption caused by a disconnection.

All three major carriers in Japan have been members of mITF. If the common PKI platform succeeds, people will eventually use mobile phones for identification, said Yutaka Yasuda, general manager of the corporate technology sector, who is acting as the chairman of the Mobile Commerce Committee of the mobile IT Forum.

While PKI authentication is penetrating the PC network sector, ID and password techniques are still the main security schemes on mobile-phone networks. And although a secure technology is needed for mobile phones, there are limitations and requirements that are peculiar to mobile-phone networks, said Satoru Tezuka, director of the 7th Research department of Hitachi's Systems Development Laboratory. The company is acting as research leader for this project.

With the aim of spreading its technology to other areas of the world, the group also intends to bring its approach before such standards-making bodies as the International Telecommunication Union and the Open Mobile Alliance.

- Yoshiko Hara
EE Times

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