British Library chooses nCipher to protect digital archive

By | April 24, 2006

nCipher plc (LSE: NCH), a global leader in protecting critical enterprise data, has been selected by the British Library to protect the integrity of its National Digital Library. The Library will contain everything from digitised versions of centuries-old manuscripts to digital journals and web archives and is expected to amass up to 300 terabytes of content over the next five years.

nCipher´s DSE200 document sealing engine has been deployed to timestamp and digitally sign every item stored in the Library to ensure that electronic documents and other materials are authentic and that they have not been modified from the original.

The British Library receives a copy of every printed publication produced in the UK and Ireland, and purchases materials extensively from around the world, contributing to a collection of some 150 million items. The Library is already sourcing digitised materials from print and audio publishers, archiving part of the web and digitising some of its own collections of printed materials. The pace will accelerate when the Legal Deposit Libraries Act of 2003, which requires that UK electronic publications are deposited in the Library and saved as part of the national published archive, starts to take effect.

The British Library is now setting up a National Digital Library as an integral part of its more traditional services, with a programme of work to build the technical infrastructure for the Library´s digital collections. Roderic Parker, a Communications Officer in the Library,

says, “The Library wanted a secure storage solution that would ensure that no material is lost or altered. Throughout history traditional library materials have decayed, and have been destroyed or damaged. But while this will inevitably continue, we now have a new weapon enabling us to make sure that our electronic material remains unchanged and authentic.”

The nCipher DSE200 system provides a scalable and secure mechanism for utilising electronic signatures to ´seal´ digital material. Unlike paper-based signatures, digital signatures provide an audit trail of both the document author and the document content. By including a secure timestamp, a time-based audit trail is also created further enhancing the ability to validate the authenticity of documents. In this way the Library is able to detect any tampering of the original document even if it occurs many years after the original document was created.

“The DSE200 was the only product on the market that matched all our requirements perfectly,” continues Parker. “Not only is the unit itself tamper-resistant and independently validated to the FIPS security standard, it is also able to securely connect to an official, external timing authority, so we can say categorically that the item is the genuine article whether it has been stored for five minutes, five years, or even 500 years.”

“The British Library is one of the best-known libraries in the world and we are particularly pleased that it has entrusted the responsibility of ensuring the integrity of its electronic archives to nCipher” says Peter DiToro, Director of Timestamping Solutions at nCipher. “Cryptography plays an integral role in establishing the authenticity of electronic documents. nCipher´s DSE200 provides a powerful solution that establishes the evidentiary value of signed data. The ability to rely on the validity of such data is central to the integrity of many of today´s business systems.”

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