Thales provides secured PKI based authentication and messaging solution to the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange

Thales today announced that it has been chosen to provide the security solution for online pre and post trade operations on the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange in Egypt.

Due for completion by the end of this year, Thales is providing Misr1 Clearing, Settlement and Central Depository (MCSD) with both the authentication infrastructure for the exchange as well as security consulting. MCSD performs central clearing and settlement operations for stocks traded on the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange. This solution will position Egypt as one of the most advanced and secure electronic trading systems in the world. In addition, MCSD has also been chosen to provide clearing and settlement for ARABEX, the forthcoming Pan-Arabian stock exchange. Thales’ solution provides a platform for digital signature based stock trading across the Arab world.

Thales is working with MCSD from the conception of the project through to its delivery and continued operation. With the assistance of the security consulting professionals at Thales, MCSD has been one of the first Certification Service Providers to apply for registration under the recently introduced Egyptian digital signature law. The Egyptian Authorities have ensured that this new legalisation includes international security standards such as ISO17799, giving all participants in the Egyptian capital markets confidence in the overall security of the solution and trust in the digital signatures used to secure transactions.

Thales has used its unique combination of knowledge and experience in electronic identities and the international security standard ISO17799 combined with the powerful capabilities of its SafeSign management and Authentication Server family to deliver an efficient and adaptable solution. This included the transfer of knowledge to MCSD for the continued operation of the system and operating processes.

The new security system is being designed to meet the new Egyptian laws regarding the use of digital signatures for electronic trading. This legislation provides for Government-approved and licensed certificate authorities that will be able to offer digital X509 Certificate services to customers for strong authentication and digital signature based transactions. In embracing the opportunities digital signatures provide, MCSD will be offering two levels of security depending on the type of user. Both solutions will use a smart card and reader.

* Digital Signature Solution: This will be used by the broker organisations having online access to the exchange system; the banks which act as custodians, managing shares for high value and corporate customers, and 140 MCSD employees. Digital Signature security provides non-repudiation of trading transactions, which can be expanded to multiple markets, including the Arab Exchange.

* Portable Signature Solution: Mobile users, and those sharing internet terminals, can take advantage of the state-of-the-art security solution to trade electronically using a highly portable secure electronic signature device. Proven in global high-value payment systems, the Thales’ Personal Security Module provides a stand-alone reader to generate a transaction confirmation code with the user’s smart card, minimising interoperability issues and support costs.

The authentication system being implemented to provide security for electronic transactions is Thales’ SafeSign end-to-end authentication solution. This consists of the SafeSign Management Server which will provide user and token lifecycle management; the SafeSign Authentication Server which is capable of authenticating any transaction regardless of channel (e.g. phone, internet, letter, etc.); and finally the SafeSign Crypto Module which is a hardware security module providing a centralised key management function for the secure storage and use of cryptographic keys. Thales is also providing the smart cards and readers for digital signature and portable solutions.

When operational, the system will allow brokers and the banks to receive trading instructions by letter or by phone and then log on and strongly authenticate themselves using their smart card. They will be able to digitally sign trading instructions on behalf of clients. Similarly, investors will be able to send electronic instructions to their brokers using their SafeSign Personal Security Module. The solution will verify the transaction confirmation code and pass the verified instruction on to the broker. SafeSign allows MCSD to automate all transactions with Brokers and Custodians, including those documents that require official, written signatures. It will also enable MCSD to achieve fast and efficient resolution of any disputes.

James Kilazoglou, Managing Director of Thales security business in the UK said: “As a security system for a stock exchange trading system, MCSD’s will be one of the most advanced in the world. It will give Egypt a world-class infrastructure based on global best practice. Thales’ SafeSign enables MCSD to provide proof of the authenticity and integrity of all transactions, vital for a national stock trading system, whilst ensuring the highest levels of flexibility and future-proofing through its ability to authenticate any transaction from any channel regardless of the PKI or security token deployed. In addition, by applying Thales’ proven security risk management methodologies, we have helped MCSD to build the policies, practices and procedures necessary to deliver the appropriate mitigation of security. This has been achieved whilst also demonstrating compliance with the international security guidelines as defined in the ISO 17799 standard.”

Mohamed Abdel Salam, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of MCSD, said: “Robust security is essential to provide confidence for trading and, while we are excited by the potential that digital signatures will bring, we are also adamant that the security infrastructure to provide this is extremely strong. At the same, a pivotal reason for MCSD’s success is the fact that we have always adopted the most advanced and beneficial technology. With the new PKI platform and SafeSign we get the best of both worlds, robust security and a system that provides significant benefits to both our business and our customers. Thales UK has been able to deliver an enhanced and pioneering security solution that fully meets our requirements.”

About Thales
Thales is a leading international electronics and systems group, serving defence, aerospace, security and services markets worldwide. The Group employs 60,000 people throughout the world and generated revenues of 10.3 billion euros in 2004.

Operating in three main markets covering e-security, card payment and network security, Thales’ e-Security activities address the business, government and finance industries’ need for cryptographic security products and solutions. Over half of the world’s banks, together with the majority of the busiest exchanges, currently use Thales technology. For more than 20 years the company has been at the forefront of security and payment technology, co-operating and contributing to set the industry standards used for financial transactions and e-commerce globally. Thales e-Security activities offer a wide range of security solutions to protect Government and Defence critical information infrastructures, thereby positioning the company as a leading worldwide supplier of certified network security products.
Thales’ Security Systems business line designs, delivers and integrates high-technology solutions to protect critical infrastructures for local authorities and corporate and government customers worldwide. These solutions cover all aspects of security, including site and event security, security operation and crisis management centres, secure identification solutions, information system security and environmental security. The company’s comprehensive services offering ranges from security consulting, architecture definition and complex systems integration to complete turnkey solutions including the design, installation, operation and maintenance of security systems.

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