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VeriSign Unveils Authentication Network

VeriSign on Monday unveiled a new security system to protect online buyers from identity theft, and said it had signed up PayPal, eBay, and Yahoo as the first sites to support the authentication service.

Called VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP), the system will let consumers use a single security device to authenticate themselves to any VIP-enabled Web site. Using a shared authentication network operated by VeriSign, VIP allows e-tailing sites and enterprises to provide customers or users with one authentication credential -- perhaps a USB-based token that plugs into the computer -- for verifying identity.

VeriSign said it hoped to attract financial organizations such as banks and brokerage houses, Internet providers, and e-commerce sites to the network, where costs would be shared and the cost of stronger authentication brought down to a reasonable price.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is counting on worries about fraud to boost sales of its security services and software. The time is right: several end user surveys conducted in 2005 concluded that American consumers are changing their online habits, often by buying less or dropping online banking, because of high anxiety over identity theft.

VeriSign has been pushing tokens as a way to provide two-factor authentication, as has rival RSA Security.

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