August 12, 2010

C2Net- Internet Cryptography Company

Quantum cryptography
C2Net was an Internet cryptography company founded by Sameer Parekh, which was sold to Red Hat in 2000. It was best known for its Stronghold secure webserver software.

C2Net started out as Community ConneXion, an Internet Privacy Provider (sort of like an Internet Service Provider) providing customers with anonymous Internet services, from dialup access to email accounts. Community ConneXion implemented the first double-blind anonymous mail forwarding service (aka nym server), as well as was the company that commercialized the Anonymizer before selling it to Lance Cottrell's Anonymizer, Inc..

After seeing a demand for an Apache-based SSL-capable web server, Sameer Parekh developed the first version of Stronghold by plugging together Apache with SSLeay, Apache-SSL, and a commercially-licensed RSAref. The product was wildly successful but the company was unwilling to compromise security to get an export license for its products. Thus C2Net purchased UKWeb, an Apache-consultancy in Leeds, which independently reengineered the Stronghold product (without RSAref) for the international market. This made C2Net the first American company to be capable of providing strong encryption solutions to a worldwide market.

Eventually C2Net hired the SSLeay developers Eric Young and Tim Hudson in Brisbane, Australia to develop more encryption products. C2Net's relationship with RSA Data Security, Inc. was rocky because C2Net was using the leaked version of their trade-secret encryption algorithim RC4, rather than a version licensed from them directly. It was in fact this leaked version of RC4 that made it possible to develop a full-strength version of Stronghold outside the United States. Eventually C2Net and RSA Data Security, Inc. resolved their differences, and C2Net purchased a patent license for RSA and a license to use the trade-secret RC4 within the United States. During merger negotiations between RSA and C2Net, RSA hired C2Net's Australian team and set up their own overseas development effort in Australia in order to produce the BSAFE-SSL product for worldwide sales. Other companies began to emulate this development strategy and the United States government finally realized that the export controls were no longer effective and effectively eliminated them.

After losing the Australian office, C2Net focused primarily on selling and supporting Stronghold and hired a new CEO, Bill Rowzee. He brought the company back to profitability, and as the RSA patent was due to expire in 2000, they shifted the company's strategy to focus primarily on support. Finally, they sold the company to Red Hat in 2000.


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