How to hit an elliptic curveball

    Date23 Jan 2004
    CategoryCryptography
    3961
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    It was at the end of an IT security event hosted by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance last October that someone called to Ian McKinnon from the back of the room. His cheeks flushed and eyes beaming, he approached somewhat awkwardly, nervously, as though he was slightly out of breath. . . . It was at the end of an IT security event hosted by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance last October that someone called to Ian McKinnon from the back of the room. His cheeks flushed and eyes beaming, he approached somewhat awkwardly, nervously, as though he was slightly out of breath.

    believe you have some good news," said CATA executive director Norm McKenzie. Boy, did he ever: in what could turn out to be the deal of his life, McKinnon announced that the company he worked for, Certicom, had just signed an agreement with the United States National Security Agency (NSA) whereby it would license 26 of its patents. The CATA event had been all about the untapped promise of Canada's fledgling IT security companies. This was what they all hoped to see at the other end.

    By any measure, we shouldn't even be talking about Certicom anymore. It was one of those companies that got caught up in the dot-com bubble but did not quite burst. McKinnon, who joined the firm as president two years ago, enjoyed none of the skyrocketing success that briefly sent Certicom into the Nasdaq stratosphere, but he inherited all of the aftereffects. Though the NSA deal is only valued at US$26 million, it helped Certicom manage its first profitable quarter and represents the Canadian IT turnaround story of the year.

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