Canadian Patents Database / Patent 2347834 Summary

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(12) Patent Application: (11) CA 2347834
(54) English Title: SECURE MESSAGING SYSTEM AND METHOD
(54) French Title: SYSTEME ET PROCEDE DE MESSAGERIE SECURISEE
(51) International Patent Classification (IPC):
  • H04L 9/00 (2006.01)
  • H04L 29/06 (2006.01)
(72) Inventors :
  • OFIR, AMIRAM (Israel)
(73) Owners :
  • GALIAD COMPUTERS LTD. (Israel)
(71) Applicants :
  • GALIAD COMPUTERS LTD. (Israel)
(74) Agent: FETHERSTONHAUGH & CO.
(45) Issued:
(86) PCT Filing Date: 1999-10-20
(87) PCT Publication Date: 2000-04-27
(30) Availability of licence: N/A
(30) Language of filing: English

(30) Application Priority Data:
Application No. Country/Territory Date
09/175,619 United States of America 1998-10-20

English Abstract




A system and a method in which the user (10) can exchange secure data
transmissions with other users within (12) or optionally outside (14) of the
secured system. The system and method preferably do not require any user
intervention for the creation of the secure data, by using transport-layer
encryption and authentication technology, including but not limited to the
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption and authentication interface (24). In
addition, the system and method are suitable for the transmission and display
of many different types of messages through a unified user interface.
Furthermore, the data contained in these different types of messages may
optionally be organized for the user for efficient display and data storage.
All of these features are provided through a platform which is widely
available and which is simple to operate. Thus, the user preferably does not
need to install any additional software programs on the user computer, apart
from the web browser software program in order to operate the system and
method.


French Abstract

L'invention concerne un système et un procédé dans lesquels l'utilisateur (10) peut échanger des transmissions de données sécurisées avec d'autres utilisateurs à l'intérieur (12) ou facultativement à l'extérieur (14) du système sécurisé. De préférence, le système et le procédé ne nécessitent aucune intervention de l'utilisateur pour la création des données sécurisées, du fait de l'utilisation d'une technologie de codage et d'authentification des couches de transport, y compris et de façon non exhaustive, une interface de codage et d'authentification de protocole SSL (24). De plus, le système et le procédé sont adaptés à la transmission et à l'affichage de nombreux types de messages différents par une interface utilisateur unifiée. En outre, les données contenues dans ces différents types de messages peuvent facultativement être organisées pour l'utilisateur afin d'obtenir un affichage et un stockage efficaces des données. Toutes ces caractéristiques sont obtenues par l'intermédiaire d'une plate-forme laquelle est largement disponible et simple à exploiter. Ainsi, de préférence l'utilisateur n'a pas besoin d'installer d'éventuels programmes supplémentaires sur son ordinateur, à part le programme du navigateur Web, pour exploiter le système et le procédé.


Note: Claims are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.



WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A system for providing a private and secure message through a standard GUI
(graphical user interface) platform, the system comprising:
(a) a sender computer for sending a message through the GUI platform;
a central, secure server for receiving said message from said sender computer;
(c) a recipient computer for viewing said message from said central secure
server
through the GUI platform; and
(d) a secure channel for automatically securing and authenticating said
message
between said central secure server and at least one of said sender computer
and
said recipient computer.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the standard GUI platform is a Web browser
software program and said central secure server is a Web server.
3. The system of claim 2, wherein said secure channel is implemented according
to
the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocol.
4. The system of claim 2, wherein said message is an e-mail (electronic mail)
message.
5. The system of claim 2, wherein said message is a bulletin board message for
storage on a bulletin board, said bulletin board being stored on said Web
server, and said bulletin
board message being displayed by said Web browser.
6. The system of claim 2, wherein said message includes contact information
for an
address book, said address book being stored on said Web server, and said
contact information
being displayed by said Web browser.

18



7. The system of claim 2, wherein said message is a scheduling message for
scheduling an appointment in a scheduler, said scheduler being stored on said
Web server, said
scheduling message being displayed by said Web browser, said recipient
computer sending an
automatic acceptance message to said sender computer through said Web server.
8. The system of claim 2, wherein said message is a chat message, said chat
message
being stored on said Web server and displayed by said Web browser.
9. The system of claim 1, further comprising:
(e) a confirmation message being sent to said sender after said message is
sent over
said secure channel.
10. The system of claim 1, wherein said server stores said message and said
message
is encrypted through said secure channel.
11. The system of claim 1, wherein said sender computer connects to said
server
through said secure channel to send said message to said recipient.
12. The system of claim 11, wherein said recipient computer receives said data
transmission by connecting to said server through said secure channel.
13. The system of claim 11, wherein said recipient computer is external to
said secure
channel and said recipient computer receives notification from said server to
facilitate access to
said message from said server.
14. The system of claim 13, wherein said notification enables said recipient
to
connect to said server within said secure channel.
15. The system of claim 1, wherein said secure channel is constructed
according to
Secure Socket Layer protocol (SSL).

19



16. The system of claim 15, wherein said secure channel secures connection by
encrypting all communication from and to said secure channel.
17. The system of claim 16, wherein a Certificate Authority is used to provide
an
authentication signature and public key used to encrypt data over said secure
channel.
18. The system of claim 1, wherein said sender computer is external to said
server and
sends said message to said server, and said recipient computer receives said
data transmission by
connecting to said server.
19. The system of claim 1, wherein said server is a domain containing at least
one
said server, such that servers in said domain are connected through a
plurality of secure channels.
20. A method for securing a message for transmission from a sender computer to
a
recipient computer, the method comprising the steps of:
(a) providing a secure central server;
(b) providing a secure channel connected from at least the sender computer to
said
secure central server;
(c) sending the message from the sender computer to said secure central server
through said secure channel such that the message is automatically secured and
authenticated;
(d) sending the message from said secure central server to the
recipient computer; and
(e) receiving the message by the recipient computer.
21. The method in claim 20, the method further comprising the steps of:
(f) generating a unique reference number for identifying each message; and

20




(g) sending a confirmation message from said secure central server to the
sender
computer after the recipient computer reads the message, identified according
to
said unique reference number.
22. The method in claim 20, wherein step (d) further comprises the steps of
(i) determining if the message is to be sent to a recipient computer connected
to said
secure central server through a non-secure channel; and
(ii) sending the message to the recipient computer only if the recipient
computer is
connected to said secure central server through said secure channel.
23. The method in claim 20, wherein step (d) further comprises the steps of:
(i) determining if the recipient computer is connected to said secure central
server
through a non-secure channel;
(ii) if the recipient computer is not connected to said secure central server
through
said secure channel, sending a notification to the recipient computer that the
message is waiting on said secure central server;
wherein step (e) includes the step of connecting the recipient computer to
said secure central
server through said secure channel.
24. The method in claim 20, further comprising the steps of:
(f) logging on to said server from a computer through an Internet connection
with a
Web browser capable of supporting said secure channel.
25. The method in claim 20, further comprising the steps of:
(f) receiving a site signature from a Certificate Authority for said secure
central
server;
(g) authenticating the sender computer by sending said transmission through
said
secure channel with said site signature.
26. The method in claim 20, further comprising the steps of:
(f) creating sub-groups of users; and

21



(g) determining if a data transmission is accepted according to said sub-
groups.
27. The method of claim 20, wherein the sender computer includes a standard
GUI
platform for sending the message, and the recipient computer includes said
standard GUI
platform for displaying the message.
28. The method of claim 27, wherein said standard GUI platform is a Web
browser
software program and said central secure server is a Web server.
29. The method of claim 28, wherein said secure channel is implemented
according to
the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocol.
30. The method of claim 28, wherein the message is an e-mail (electronic mail)
message.
31. The method of claim 28, wherein the message is a bulletin board message,
wherein step (c) includes the step of storing the message on a bulletin board,
said bulletin board
being stored on said Web server, and wherein step (e) includes the step of
displaying said bulletin
board message by said Web browser of the recipient computer.
32. The method of claim 31, wherein said bulletin board is accessible to a
plurality of
users, the method further comprising the step of:
(f) determining a permission for at least one user for accessing at least one
message
on said bulletin board; and
(g) permitting access to said at least one user for viewing said at least one
message
according to said permission.
33. The method of claim 28, wherein the message includes contact information
for an
address book, wherein step (c) includes the step of adding said contact
information to said
address book, said address book being stored on said Web server, and wherein
step (e) includes
the step of displaying said contact information by said Web browser.

22



34. The method of claim 33, wherein at least a portion of said address book is
accessible to a plurality of users, said address book being controlled by a
primary user, the
method further comprising the steps of:
(f) adding contact information to said address book by one of said plurality
of users
other than said primary user through said secure channel, such that said one
of
said plurality of users operates a computer connected to said secure central
server
through said secure channel.
35. The method of claim 28, wherein the message is a scheduling message for
scheduling an appointment in a scheduler, wherein step (c) includes the step
of adding said
appointment to said scheduler, said scheduler being stored on said Web server,
said scheduling
message being displayed by said Web browser of the recipient computer, the
method further
comprising the step of:
(f) if said appointment is accepted, sending an automatic acceptance message
from
the recipient computer to the sender computer through said Web server.
36. A method for instant messaging through a client/server system, the method
comprising the steps of:
(a) providing a secure channel for connecting each client to the server;
(b) sending a message from a first client to the server;
(c) holding said message on the server; and
(d) displaying said message by a second client from the server.
37. The method of claim 36, wherein each client is a Web browser, the server
is a
Web server, and said secure channel is a SSL (secure socket layer} protocol
channel.
38. The method of claim 37, wherein step (c) further comprises the step of
notifying
said second client of said message being held on the server.

23

Note: Descriptions are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
WO 00/24154 ~ PCT/IL99/00549
Secure Messaging System and Method
FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a system and a method for securely sending
and receiving
messages, and, in particular, a system and method for management of the secure
transmission of
many different types of messages without active intervention by the user.
E-mail (electronic mail) is used by a large number of people on an
international basis,
replacing paper once memos, and helping geographically dispersed families and
coworkers keep
in touch or share information. As the population of computer users come to
rely more on e-mail
as a mechanism for communication, more e-mail content is requiring privacy. On
a private
network, the sender connects directly to the server, such that privacy may be
more readily
assured, by protecting a single peer-to-peer connection. On the Internet, e-
mail messages bounce
from node to node until they reach their destinations, since connections on
the Internet are not
peer-to-peer. Unfortunately, such "multihop" connections are easy to
intercept, providing many
potential opportunities to tamper with an Internet e-mail transmission.
1$ However, when a user browses through the World Wide Web, the computer of
the user
basically establishes a direct connection to each Web server from which Web
page content is
requested. Therefore, Web communication can be made secure by securing the
channel for data
transmission, which is the connection between the user computer and the Web
server. Since
Internet e-mail can pass through several servers before reaching the final
destination, securing
such a communication channel is impossible. Instead, the e-mail message itself
must be secured.
Providing secure transactions across the Internet has three goals. First, two
parties
engaging in a transaction, such as the exchange of e-mail, a business
transaction, or some other
data transfer, do not want a third party to be able to read the transmission.
Therefore, data
encryption is required in order to satisfy this goal. Second, the recipient of
the message should
be able to detect whether tampering with the e-mail message has occurred in
transit, which
requires a message integrity scheme. Finally, both parties must know that they
are
communicating with the actual person and not with an impostor. This is done
with user
authentication.
There are several proprietary mechanisms to encrypt and secure electronic
communications, although none of these proprietary mechanisms fully satisfies
these three goals
for e-mail messages. Traditional, single-key encryption, in which the same key
is used to both


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
WO 00/24154 PCT/IL99/00549
encrypt and decrypt messages, is unworkable for e-mail communications because
there is no safe
way to transmit the key. On the one hand, sending the key unencrypted is not
safe. On the other
hand, delivering the keys manually to e-mail recipients, who may be at a
geographically distant
location, is highly inconvenient. Thus, single-key encryption is not useful
for e-mail messages.
As is known in the background art, one way to transmit a key safely is to use
a technique
called dual-key or asymmetric encryption, which has separate keys for
encrypting and decrypting.
Public keys are used to encrypt the messages sent to recipients, while the
recipients use their
private keys to decrypt these messages. The two keys are mathematically
related, but the private
key cannot be derived from the public key, so the public key can be freely
distributed. The
private key does not need to be transmitted beyond the computer of the private
key owner.
An example of the operation of such a dual-key system is as follows. When User
A
wants to send a secure message to User B, User A encrypts the message with
User B's public
key. When User B receives the message, User B decrypts the message with User
B's private key.
However, using this method requires User A, the sender, to first obtain the
public key of User B,
the recipient. Two popular public-key software packages which use the dual-key
encryption
method are PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and S/MIME (a secure version of the
popular data
compression utility MIME).
Unfortunately, there are several problems with the dual-key solution for
encryption. One
problem arises when a user wants to send encrypted e-mail to recipients who
are not known to
the user. In this case, the sender does not know which public key belongs to
the recipient.
Another problem with client-side dual-key encryption is that the encryption
process is
computationally intensive and requires a significant amount of time to
perform.
A more useful solution would provide a secure mechanism for sending many
different
types of messages, including e-mail messages, without requiring user
intervention. Such a
solution would be transparent and effective over a widely available platform.
Furthermore, such
a solution would also provide organization for these different types of
messages, in order to
display and store the information contained in these messages to the user in
the most efficient
manner. Unfortunately, such a solution is not currently available.
There is therefore a need for a system and a method which provides a solution
for all
three issues of secure data transmission, including but not limited to,
encryption, tampering and
authentication over the Internet, which is efficient, which requires minimal
user intervention and
which also is useful for managing many different types of messages.
2


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
WO 00/24154 - PCT/IL99100549
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is of a system and a method in which the user can
exchange secure
data transmissions with other users) within or optionally outside of the
secured system. The
system and method preferably do not require any user intervention for the
creation of the secure
data, by using transport-layer encryption and authentication technology,
including but not limited
to, the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption and authentication interface. In
addition, the system
and method are suitable for the transmission and display of many different
types of messages
through a unified user interface. Furthermore, the data contained in these
different types of
messages may optionally and preferably be organized for the user for efficient
display and data
storage. All of these features are provided through a platform which is widely
available and
which is simple to operate, which is preferably the GUI (graphical user
interface) display
provided by Web browser software programs. Thus, the user preferably does not
need to install
any additional software programs on the user computer, apart from the Web
browser software
program, in order to operate the present invention.
According to the teachings of the present invention there is provided a system
for
providing a private and secure message through a standard GUI (graphical user
interface)
platform, the system comprising: (a) a sender computer for sending a message
through the GUI
platform; (b) a central, secure server for receiving the message from the
sender computer; (c) a
recipient computer for viewing the message from the central secure server
through the GUI
platform; and (d) a secure channel for automatically securing and
authenticating the message
between the central secure server and at least one of the sender computer and
the recipient
computer.
According to another embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a
method
for securing a data transmission between a sender for sending and a recipient
for receiving the
data transmission, the method comprising the steps of (a) providing a server;
(b) providing a
secure channel connected to the server; (c) sending a data transmission from
the sender to the
server through the secure channel such that the data transmission is
substantially automatically
secured and authenticated; (d) sending the data transmission from the server
to the recipient; and
(e) receiving the data transmission by the recipient.
Hereinafter, the term "Web browser" refers to any software program which can
display text,
graphics, or both, from Web pages on World Wide Web sites. Hereinafter, the
term "Web page"
3


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
WO 00/24154 ' PCT/IL99/00549
refers to any document written in a mark-up language including; but not
limited to, HTML
(hypertext mark-up language) or VRML (virtual reality modeling language),
dynamic HTML, XML
(extended mark-up language) or related computer languages thereof, as well as
to any collection of
such documents reachable through one specific Internet address or at one
specific World Wide Web
site, or any document obtainable through a particular URL (Uniform Resource
Locator).
Hereinafter, the term "Web site" refers to at least one Web page, and
preferably a plurality of Web
pages, virtually connected to form a coherent group. Hereinafter, the term
"Web server" refers to a
computer or other electronic device which is capable of serving at least one
Web page to a Web
browser.
I 0 Hereinafter, the term "network" refers to a connection between any two or
more
computers which permits the transmission of data, including but not limited
to, the Internet.
Hereinafter, the phrase "display a Web page" includes all actions necessary to
render at
least a portion of the information on the Web page available to the computer
user. As such, the
phrase includes, but is not limited to, the static visual display of static
graphical information, the
audible production of audio information, the animated visual display of
animation and the visual
display of video stream data.
Hereinafter, the terms "computer user" and "user" both refer to the person who
operates
the Web browser or other GUI interface and navigates through the system of the
present
invention by operating a computer.
Hereinafter, the term "computer" refers to a combination of a particular
computer
hardware system and a particular software operating system. Examples of such
hardware
systems include those with any type of suitable data processor. Hereinafter,
the term "computer"
includes, but is not limited to, personal computers (PC) having an operating
system such as DOS,
WindowsTM, OS/2T"" or Linux; MacintoshT"" computers; computers having JAVATM-
OS as the
operating system; and graphical workstations such as the computers of Sun
MicrosystemsT"" and
Silicon GraphicsTM, and other computers having some version of the UNIX
operating system
such as AIXT"" or SOLARIST"" of Sun MicrosystemsTM; a PalmPilotT"", a
PilotPCT"", or any other
handheld device; or any other known and available operating system.
Hereinafter, the term
"WindowsTM" includes but is not limited to Windows95TM, Windows 3.xT"" in
which "x" is an
integer such as "1", Windows NTTM, Windows98TM, Windows CET"" and any upgraded
versions
of these operating systems by Microsoft Corp. (USA).
4


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For the present invention, a software application could be written in
substantially any
suitable programming language, which could easily be selected by one of
ordinary skill in the art.
The programming language chosen should be compatible with the computer by
which the
software application is executed, and in particularly with the operating
system of that computer.
Examples of suitable programming languages include, but are not limited to, C,
C++ and Java.
Furthermore, the functions of the present invention, when described as a
series of steps for a
method, could be implemented as a series of software instructions for being
operated by a data
processor, such that the present invention could be implemented as software,
firmware or
hardware, or a combination thereof.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention is herein described, by way of example only, with reference to
the
accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram of an exemplary system according to the
present
invention;
FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram of the standard, background art OSI
Interface, with
the Secure Socket Layer diagrammed;
FIG. 3 a schematic block diagram of the standard, background art Secure Socket
Layer
3.0;
FIG. 4 is a flowchart of an exemplary method for sending a message from an
internal user
to another user according to the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a flowchart of an exemplary method for sending a message from an
external
user to an internal user according to the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a flowchart of an exemplary method for managing information related
to an
"address" or contact book according to the present invention;
FIG. 7 is a flowchart of an exemplary method for managing information related
to
messages posted to a bulletin board according to the present invention; and
FIG. 8 is a flowchart of an exemplary method for managing scheduling
information
according to the present invention.
5


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DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
The present invention is of a system and a method, in which the user can
exchange secure
data transmissions with other users) within or optionally outside of the
secured system. The
system and method preferably do not require any user intervention for the
creation of the secure
data, by using transport-layer encryption and authentication technology,
including but not limited
to, the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption and authentication interface.
More preferably, the
SSL encryption and authentication interface is used for securing the messages,
since SSL is an
industry standard for Web browser software programs and is provided as an
automatic feature of
these programs, such that the user could preferably operate the system of the
present invention
through the standard Web browser software program interface. Thus, the user
preferably does
not need to install any additional software programs on the user computer,
apart from the Web
browser software program, in order to operate the present invention.
In addition, the system and method of the present invention are suitable for
the
transmission and display of many different types of messages through a unified
user interface.
Furthermore, the data contained in these different types of messages may
optionally and
preferably be organized for the user for efficient display and data storage.
All of these features
are provided through a platfonm which is widely available and which is simple
to operate, which
is preferably the GUI (graphical user interface) display provided by Web
browser software
programs. As previously described, more preferably the user does not need to
install any
additional software programs or "plug-ins" to the Web browser software
program, such that the
present invention is operable with the standard Web browser software program
alone. Therefore,
the Web browser interface preferably provides the single, unifying interface
for viewing the data
contained in the messages, and for operating the system of the present
invention to send and
receive such messages.
Therefore, the system and the method of the present invention have a number of
advantages over the background art. First, the present invention does not
require the provision or
exchange of public and/or private data encryption keys by the sending and
receiving users.
Second, the present invention does not require special, proprietary software,
but preferably
operates only with a Web browser which complies with the industry standard for
SSL. Third, the
present invention organizes and manages data from many different types of
messages, which is
not provided in the background art.
6


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
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The principles and operation of the system and method according to the present
invention
may be better understood with reference to the drawings and the accompanying
description.
Although the description of Figures 1-S focuses upon the transmission of e-
mail messages, it is
understood that this is for the purposes of illustration only and is without
any intention of being
limiting, as the system and method of the present invention are useful for the
secure transmission
of many different types of messages. Figures 6-8 describe additional examples
of messages for
which the system and method of the present invention are also useful,
including information
related to an "address" or contact book (Figure 6), messages posted to a
bulletin board or "chat
room" (Figure 7) and the arrangement of scheduling information (Figure 8).
Referring now to the drawings, Figure 1 is a schematic block diagram of an
exemplary
private and secure system according to the present invention, with a server 18
containing the
mailboxes for internal users 10,12 and external users 14 using standard Web
browser software
programs to communicate over the Internet 16. As will be appreciated by those
skilled in the art,
standard access to e-mail is accomplished via a modem connection to an
Internet Service
Provider who provides a temporary Internet address for the user connection and
typically a
mailbox for that user to receive and send mail. Connections to the Internet
use the standard
TCP/IP protocol which is further explained in Figure 2. All e-mail
transmissions sent and
received are unencrypted unless the sender and recipient have exchanged public
keys beforehand
and are using software like PGP or S/MIME to encrypt/decrypt the message.
In the system of Figure 1, Internal User A 10 connects to Private and Secure
server 18
through a login interface which requires. a proper username and password
combination. By
"internal", it is meant that User A 10 is a member of the system of secure e-
mail transmission
which is provided by Private and Secure server 18, such that Internal User A
10 may both send
and receive secure e-mail through Private and Secure server 18. Internal User
A 10 then gains
access to the encrypted e-mail inbox, containing encrypted data. Encrypted
data 17 is sent to the
browser of Internal User A 10 through a secure channel, such as the Secure
Socket Layer
channel, on Private and Secure server 18 and unencrypted automatically by the
Secure Socket
Layer implementation built into the Web browser of Internal User A 10.
External users 14 could also connect to the Private and Secure server 18 via
standard e
mail software and send unencrypted data 15 to an Internal User 10 or 12 on
Private and Secure
server 18. By "external", it is meant that External User 14 cannot send secure
e-mail messages
through Private and Secure server 18, although optionally and preferably,
External User 14 can
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CA 02347834 2001-04-19
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receive e-mail messages from Private and Secure server 18. As described in
greater below with
regard to Figure 4, these e-mail messages are not sent securely to External
User 14, unless
External User 14 is given a temporary and/or limited function account with
Private and Secure
server 18, in which case External User 14 would receive messages in a similar
manner as Internal
User 10 or 12, for example.
Secure Socket Layer channel encryption occurs away from the user-interface, as
illustrated in Figure 2, which shows the diagram of the Open System
Interconnection (OSI)
Interface for standard network architecture, which was developed by the
International Standards
Organization.
The OSI model is composed of seven different layers. Each layer has its own
function,
adding information to the message to ensure it reaches the correct destination
without errors.
Information added to the beginning of a message is called a header.
Information added to the end
of the message is called a trailer. A message travels through the OSI layer in
segments. The
layers append an information-bearing header to each segment and a trailer to
the end of the
message. At the receiving end, corresponding or peer layers interpret
information and implement
commands in the header and trailer. Then they remove the header and trailer
and transmit the
data as intended by the sender.
Protocols are rules agreed upon by the sender and receiver which specify data
communications techniques and procedures. TCP/IP (Transmission
Control/Internet Protocol) is
an implementation of two layers of the OSI model. TCP, the transmission
control protocol,
divides transmissions into packets, reassembles them at the receiving end in
the correct order,
and resends portions that do not transmit correctly. IP, the Internet
protocol, is responsible for the
actual routing and transmission of data.
While each of the seven layers in the OSI model contribute their share in the
successful
transmission of data, with regard to the present invention there are two
layers that are of
particular significance, the Application layer, block 21 and the Transport
layer, block 25. Secure
Socket Layer (SSL) software resides at the TRANSPORT layer, block 25, (also
known as the
"connection" layer) which is where TCP/IP also partially resides. This layer
is several layers
away from the user and APPLICATION layer, block 21, where HTTP, FTP and TELNET
reside,
illustrating that the actions of SSL occur away from the user interface.
As previously mentioned, one of the problems with the background art PGP or
S/MIME
implementations of dual-key encryption is the necessity for the sending user
to somehow verify
8


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
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the public-key with the recipient. An automated solution is provided by Secure
Socket Layer
(SSL); however, this invention is not limited to the solution provided by SSL.
SSL is brought
here only as an example of a solution which requires nowser intervention in
the encryption,
message integrity and authentication aspects of a secure data transfer. Using
SSL, a client
program and a server program agree on encryption, MAC (Message Authentication
Code)
methods and key-exchange methods. Key-exchange methods can include but are not
limited to,
DH (Dike-Hellman) and DHE, which are non-proprietary methods developed by
Whitfield
Diffie and Martin Hellman; or an RSA method developed by RSA Data Security.
SSL 3.0
requires that the client and server agree on a set of randomly generated keys.
SSL 3.0 provides a solution for user-authentication by using Digital
Certificates. Digital
Certificate standards include DSS, the Digital Signature Standard approved by
the National
Institute of Standards and Technology in 1994, or a proprietary certificate
signed using RSA Data
Security technology. A Certificate Authority is a bureau offering
Authentication Signature to
sites who would wish to offer SSL service to Internet Browsers. A site which
wants to offer SSL
needs to send authenticating information to a Certificate Authority. The reply
from the Certificate
Authority is the authenticating information, "Signed" by the private key and
public key of the
Authority, which forms a "Site Certificate". The signature can be
authenticated by any individual
with the public key of the Authority.
According to SSL, a Web Browser always uses encryption to exchange information
with
a secure site. For every session, the Web Browser generates a new encryption
key and sends the
key to the Web Server before communication starts. Both Web Browser and Web
Server use this
key to encrypt any information they exchange. The following steps are taken by
the Browser to
initiate a connection with a secure site. First the Browser requests the
Site's Certificate, which
contains the Site's information including name, name of Certificate Authority,
Public Key,
"Finger Prints" and "Signature". Then the Browser authenticates the site using
the Certificate
Authority's public key. Next, the Browser produces an encryption key, and
encrypts this key with
the server's public key. The encrypted key is then sent to the Web Server.
Finally,
communication of the data can begin.
Figure 3 is a flow diagram that illustrates how Secure Socket Layer 3.0
implements the
sending of a secure document (more detailed information can be found in the
book "Secure
Electronic Commerce: Building the Infrastructure for Digital Signatures and
Encryption" by
Warwick Ford and Michael S. Baum, ISBN# 0134763424, incorporated as if fully
set forth
9


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herein only for the purpose of describing SSL). The sender sends a document to
the recipient,
block 30. The message-digest function (MDS or SHA) then produces a MAC
(Message
Authentication Code), block 31. The MAC is encrypted with the sender's private
key, block 32.
The encryption methods can optionally include non-proprietary encryption
methods specified by
the Data Encryption Standard approved by the National Institute of Standards
and Technology in
1994 such as DES, DES40, 3DES, or proprietary encryption methods developed by
RSA Data
Security such as RC2_CBC 40, RC4 128 and RC 40. In block 33 the encrypted MAC
is
attached to the document, and both the encrypted MAC and the document are
encrypted with the
recipient's public key.
The message is sent to the recipient via standard Internet communication,
block 34. In
block 35 the recipient receives the message and decrypts it with the
recipient's private key. The
recipient produces a local copy of the document's MAC by using the same
message-digest
function that the sender used, block 37. The recipient compares the local copy
of the MAC, block
38 to the unencrypted MAC, block 39. If they are identical, then the document
has not been
tampered with and only the sender could have created the original message.
Turning now to the system and method of the present invention, Figure 4 is a
flow
diagram of how an Internal User sends data transmissions to other users
external to the Private
and Secure System according to the present invention. Optionally and
preferably, four choices
are offered to the Internal User with regard to the transmission of e-mail
messages, or other
messages, to users who are external to the secure system. More preferably,
these choices are
configured by the user and/or by a system manager as part of the "preferences"
for operating the
secure system according to the present invention.
The first choice is for the system to refuse to send such a message, such that
the user
would receive a system notification, indicating that the message could not be
sent since the
intended recipient is external to the secure system. This choice may be
preferred since messages
cannot be sent securely to external recipients. The message would be sent
securely from the user
computer to the central secure server. However, the message would need to be
sent as plaintext,
without encryption or other secure protection, from the central secure server
to the computer of
the intended recipient who is external to the secure system. Thus, a more
secure policy would
optionally prevent such messages from being sent.
The second choice would simply notify the Internal User if such a non-secure
message is
to be sent to the external user. For example, the Internal User would
optionally need to indicate


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
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acceptance of the transmission of the e-mail message to an external, non-
secure user, by
"clicking" on a GUI gadget, or otherwise indicating acceptance of such a non-
secure
tn3nsmission. The Internal User would thus be given the choice each time as to
whether the non
secure e-mail message is to be sent to a user who is external to the secure
system of the present
invention.
The third choice, described in greater detail below, would provide a
temporary, limited
account for the external user to be able to read the message from the secure
central server. The
external user could then receive a secure message within the secure system of
the present
invention.
The fourth choice is simply to allow all such non-secure messages to be sent,
without
notifying or alerting the Internal User. Of course, such a choice has the
disadvantage that the e-
mail message, or other message, would be sent without secure protection, as
well as the further
disadvantage that the Internal User would not necessarily be aware that the
message is being sent
to a user who is external to the secure system of the present invention.
The specific preferred implementation of these choices is as follows. In the
embodiment
of Figure 4, the user establishes a routine connection to the Internet using
an SSL (or similar
technology) enabled browser. The sender, for example Internal User A 10 of
Figure 1, then
connects to the Private and Secure server 18 and "log in" or gains access by
using a valid name
and password combination, block 50. In decision block 51 the username/password
combination
is verified. Then sender Internal User A 10 composes the messages) and
attaches any files) or
other data and sends the e-mail message to another user, block 52. A unique
reference number is
generated for that transmission, block 53. 'The e-mail message is encrypted
and authentication
information is attached, unless suppressed by the sender user, block 54. This
process optionally
and preferably occurs automatically, for example by implementing SSL or a
similar technology.
In decision block 55, the system determines whether the user is internal or
external to the
system. In one embodiment, where the recipient is an internal user such as
Internal User B 12, the
message is then stored in the inbox of Internal User B 12 on Private and
Secure server 18, as
shown in block 60. In block 61, Internal User B 12 reads or rejects the e-mail
message. A
confirmation message is then sent to the sender, who is Internal User A 10, as
shown in block
62.
In another embodiment, if in block 55 it is determined that the recipient is
an external
user to the system such as External User 14, a decision is then taken in block
56 to determine if
11


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data is allowed to be exchanged with external users. In one preferred
embodiment such as an
intranet (a network of computers which is private to a specific group or
organization such as a
company), where external data transmissions are not permitted, this
transmission would
optionally be rejected.
In a further embodiment, where exchanges of data with external users are
permitted, a
new user is created with a random password, block 57. The e-mail is then
stored in the new
user's inbox, block 58. In block 59, an e-mail message is generated
automatically and sent to
External User 14 containing a time-stamped message indicating that there is at
least one e-mail
message waiting in the inbox on Private and Secure Server 18, which can be
accessed with the
name and password contained in the e-mail message. The External user 14 then
logs on to the
Private and Secure server 18 and reads or rejects the e-mail message sent,
block 61. A
confirmation message is then sent to the sender Internal User A 10, block 62.
Figure 5 is a flow diagram of the process according to the present invention
which occurs
when an external user to the Private and Secure server 18 attempts to send an
e-mail message to
an internal user. In this embodiment, assume External User 14 sends an e-mail
message via
conventional e-mail software to Internal User A 10, a recipient on the Private
and Secure Server
18, block 70. The software on the Private and Secure server 18 determines if
the recipient is a
valid user on the system, decision block 71. In block 72 a unique reference
number is generated
for the e-mail message. The e-mail message is then time-stamped and stored in
the inbox of the
recipient Internal User A 10 unencrypted, block 73. In block 74 a time-stamped
e-mail message
generated by the system is sent back to External User 14, stating that the
message was accepted
at Private and Secure system 18 for Internal User A I0. The message includes
the time when
Internal User A 10 last interacted with the system. Optionally and preferably,
a warning
statement that the message traveled through the standard unprotected e-mail
system is included
as well. Once Internal User A 10 reads or rejects the mail, block 75, a
confirmation message is
then sent to the sender External User 14, block 76.
According to preferred embodiments of the present invention, a number of
additional
features of the present invention optionally and preferably may be included.
For example,
preferably according to the present invention, all user details for
interacting with the system of
the present invention are stored on the secure server, such that these details
are available to the
user regardless of which computer the user uses. Furthermore, all of the
messages and related
information are also preferably stored on the secure server, in order to both
maintain the security
12


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
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of this data, and to enable the user to access the data from substantially any
computer which has a
connection to the secure server, for example through the Internet, and which
operates a standard
Web browser or other standard GUI platform.
In the previously described preferred embodiment of the present invention,
these features
are enabled by the SSL encryption and secure transmission protocol which is
provided through
currently available, standard Web browser software programs. The SSL protocol
ensures that all
data, regardless of content, is encrypted and thereby secured, in a manner
which is transparent to
the user. The optional but preferred extensions to the present invention,
which are described
below in greater detail, are operable with the SSL protocol in a substantially
similar manner to
the transmission of e-mail messages which was previously described.
An example of an additional, preferred feature of the system and method of the
present
invention is the provision of an "address" or contact book, as described with
regard to Figure 6
below. The address book preferably includes multiple records. Information that
may be
optionally added to the address book may include e-mail address, group or
groups to which the
user belongs, address and other personal information, for example, company
information,
telephone numbers, and comments. This information may be optionally available
to other users
by setting optional flags. Users may also optionally select from whom they
should accept
messages, for example internal and/or external users.
According to other preferred embodiments, the system of the present invention
is a
messaging system which is provided through the Web browser interface by using
personal
addresses and other information which is stored on a central Web server, and
as such can be used
from anywhere, on any computer without prior setup. This approach means that
personal e-mail
parameters such as address books are optionally available to the user on the
private and secure
server and not on the actual machine being used to communicate with the
private and secure
server.
Figure 6 is a flowchart of a method according to the present invention for
managing such
an address book, which is stored on the central secure server and is displayed
by the Web
browser or other standard GUI. The management of the address book includes
several features,
such as the addition of information concerning a new contact; the option of
sharing at least some
information with another user in a "read only" manner; and the option of
allowing at least one
other user to edit at least some of the information in the address book.
13


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
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As shown in step 1, information is entered into the address book concerning a
new
contact, such as the name of an individual, e-mail address, telephone number
and so forth.
Although as for other electronically stored address books, the user may enter
such information,
according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the user
receives a request to add
the information automatically from another user, who may be either the new
contact or a third
party. In step 2, the user then has the option to allow or disallow this
request.
In step 3, the user optionally sets a flag to allow at least one other user to
read at least a
portion of the information in the address book. The user may be identified as
an individual, or as
a member of a group, such as "fellow employee", for example. The information
may be
segregated according to type of contact, such that some contacts are labeled
"private", while
others are "public"; according to the type of information, such that the name
and e-mail address
of contacts are public, but not the telephone number; or a combination
thereof, for example.
In step 4, the user optionally and preferably allows at least one other user
to edit at least a
portion of the information stored in the address book. For example, a
secretary may be allowed
to enter information concerning a new contact into the address book of a
manager, and/or to edit
existing information, for example to change information concerning a known
contact to update
the contact information. Thus, the address book according to the present
invention optionally
allows the user to share information, and even to permit one or more other
users to edit the stored
information.
Figure 7 is a flowchart of an exemplary method for managing information
related to
messages posted to a bulletin board according to the present invention. In
step 1, the bulletin
board is provided for displaying messages, and is stored on the central secure
server of the
present invention. In step 2, a set of permissions is determined for the
bulletin board, optionally
for each message on the board, and alternatively or additionally for each user
who has access to
the bulletin board. For example, only one or more specific users may be
allowed to write new
messages to the board, and/or to edit the board. Other users may be given
permission to read
certain messages, or even all messages on the board.
In step 3, access to the bulletin board is provided from the standard GUI
platform,
preferably a Web browser, to the secure central server through a secure
channel, such as through
SSL for example. Therefore, each message is transmitted and read securely,
from substantially
any computer which both operates the Web browser and is connected to the
secure central server.
14


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
WO 00124154 ' PCT/IL99/00549
In step 4, a user reads or otherwise interacts with at least one message of
the bulletin
board, through the Web browser and secure communication channel.
A variation of the bulletin board is the "chat" function according to the
present invention,
in which messages are exchanged between at least two parties. If messages are
exchanged
S between more than two parties, then the chat function may be referred to as
a "chat room".
According to the present invention, each participant in the chat reads the
text messages from the
central server, preferably without downloading in order to maintain security.
Therefore, although
the user may optionally be notified of the existence of such a chat message,
for example through
the POP (Point of Presence) protocol, the user preferably must still read the
message through the
Web browser connected to the secure central server. Thus, unlike background
art chat systems
such as ICQT"" (Mirabilis Inc., Israel), the chat function of the present
invention is not peer-to-
peer, but rather is client-server, with the user operating a Web browser (the
client) for receiving
information from the secure central server of the present invention.
For a "chat room", the process of enabling users to receive the chat-related
messages may
optionally and preferably be controlled by a controlling user, who
authenticates each user who
wishes to join the chat room. Again, the process is a "client-server" process,
in which each user
must actively read the chat messages which are held on the central server. The
process of
"chatting" is therefore asynchronous, in that a user posts a message and then
waits for the
intended recipients) to read the message. However, preferably other users are
notified when a
user leaves the "chat", or stops reading these messages.
Optionally and preferably, the user may receive a transcript of the chat
session messages
in which the user participated upon leaving the chat session. Also optionally
and preferably,
these chat functions may be implemented for different types of message data,
including but not
limited to, voice data, text data and a combination thereof. If audio data
such as voice data is to
be included, then the hardware components of the user computer would
preferably also include a
microphone and sound card for receiving and playing the audio data,
respectively. More
preferably, the management and playing of such audio data would be performed
by a software
program intended for such purposes, which would preferably interact with the
present invention
through the unifying user interface of the system of the present invention.
Figure 8 is a flowchart of an exeraplary method for managing scheduling
information
according to the present invention. The scheduling information optionally and
preferably
includes such information as the date and time of a meeting or other
appointment; the expected


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
WO 00124154 ' PCT1IL99/00549
duration of the appointment; the location of the appointment, such as at the
office of the user or
outside of the office of the user; and so forth. Furthermore, preferably all
of the requests are sent
as messages through the secure system of the present invention, while the
scheduler itself is
stored on, and operated by, the secure server of the present invention. Thus,
this system is
S preferably implemented in a similar manner as for the previously described
address book
according to the present invention.
In step 1, a first user sends a request for a meeting to a second user. The
request includes
such particulars as the date, time, location and optionally the subject of the
meeting. In step 2,
the scheduler of the first user optionally and preferably shows a tentative
appointment time
marked for the meeting.
In step 3, the second user receives the appointment request. In step 4, if the
second user
accepts the request, then the appointment is preferably automatically marked
in the scheduler of
the second user, optionally with the associated information as previously
described. In step 5,
once the second user has accepted the request, an acceptance reply is
preferably automatically
sent to the scheduler of the first user. In step 6, preferably the scheduler
of the first user then
automatically changes the "tentative" designation of the meeting to "actual"
or some other
designation indicating that the request has been accepted.
As previously mentioned, optionally and preferably according to the present
invention, a
user may authenticate another user. This mechanism enables full authentication
within the
system. For example, any user may ask and receive as many authentications as
required.
Authentication information is preferably automatically attached to all e-mail
transmissions sent
from that user. The user may optionally suppress this feature and require no
authentication.
Using the optional features thus far described, the user may optionally create
private sub-
groups. These sub-groups may optionally be "open" or "closed". An open sub-
group may consist
of users who are authenticated by the same user. A message received by one
member from
another member can be trusted and if desired, the receiver can identify who
the sender was.
Additionally users in this group may optionally receive messages from users
outside the group. In
a closed sub-group, all users who are authenticated by the same user may
optionally restrict
access to their information section and may optionally not accept messages
from any user not in
the group. Optionally and preferably, every message composed and sent by both
internal and
16


CA 02347834 2001-04-19
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external users will generate a unique reference number, which is visible to
both the sender and
recipient.
The present invention has a number of advantages over the prior art,
particularly in the
S preferred implementation of Web browser-based messaging. The Web browser-
based messaging
system provides a total solution to the transmission of e-mail messages and
other types of
messages including attachments, without the need for any of the hardware or
software required
by other systems. The following is a partial list of items required by other
messaging systems,
which are preferably not required and/or used by the Private and Secure
messaging system of the
present invention: Firewall, Intranet, Router blocking, Plug-Ins, Helpers and
Cookies. Any end-
user wishing to use the Private and Secure messaging services of the present
invention preferably
needs only a computer, access to the Internet and a Web Browser or other
widely available, non-
proprietary GUI which supports SSL or whatever secure channel technology is
used. The user
can access data transmissions exchanged with recipients safely, easily and in
complete privacy.
There is total security from the moment a transmission is sent from the sender
to the moment it is
received by the recipient. All files that are waiting on the server or stored
there are protected by
encryption.
It will be appreciated that the above descriptions are intended only to serve
as examples,
and that many other embodiments are possible within the spirit and the scope
of the present
invention.
17

A single figure which represents the drawing illustrating the invention.

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Admin Status

Title Date
Forecasted Issue Date Unavailable
(86) PCT Filing Date 1999-10-20
(87) PCT Publication Date 2000-04-27
(85) National Entry 2001-04-19
Dead Application 2003-10-20

Payment History

Fee Type Anniversary Year Due Date Amount Paid Paid Date
Filing $150.00 2001-04-19
Registration of Documents $100.00 2001-07-31
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 2 2001-10-22 $100.00 2001-10-19
Current owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Current Owners on Record
GALIAD COMPUTERS LTD.
Past owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Past Owners on Record
OFIR, AMIRAM
Past Owners that do not appear in the "Owners on Record" listing will appear in other documentation within the application.

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Abstract 2001-04-19 1 61
Claims 2001-04-19 6 239
Representative Drawing 2001-07-17 1 6
Description 2001-04-19 17 1,083
Drawings 2001-04-19 8 118
Cover Page 2001-07-17 1 46
Correspondence 2001-06-22 1 24
PCT 2001-04-19 3 124
Prosecution-Amendment 2001-04-19 1 19
PCT 2001-09-10 4 162
Fees 2001-10-19 1 37