Smart Cards Continue to Draw Influential Adopters for Access Control and IT Security

Thursday 29 April 2004 09:29 CET | News

Smart cards continue to draw influential adopters in the U.S. for IT security, access control and identity credentials, the Smart Card Alliance reports. For its part, Microsoft selected smart card technology for securing access to its intranets and delivering digital certificates to its 55,000 employees used for remote authentication, digital signatures and encrypting emails.

Microsoft joins a growing roster of blue-chip technology companies that are using smart cards internally for logical and physical access control. With millions of cards already issued, the U.S. federal government is sold on smart cards for strong authentication and as highly secure identity credentials, and is marching toward the goal of a common identity credential that is used for both physical and logical access control across all of its branches. Programs are already planned or underway to issue new smart ID cards in numerous federal agencies, including: GSA, Defense, State, Treasury, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and NASA. Another important milestone in the governments use of smart cards is the recently published Government Smart Card Handbook developed under the joint sponsorship of the General Services Administration Office of Governmentwide Policy and the Smart Card Interagency Advisory Board (IAB). The purpose of the handbook is to share lessons learned and to provide guidance to federal agencies contemplating the development and deployment of smart card-based identity and credentialing systems. The handbook is based on contributions from experts in government, industry and academia, and includes input and review by members of the Smart Card Alliance Leadership Council. The handbook is available on the Alliances web site and at GSAs public web site. The Transportation Security Administration Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) passed a significant milestone earlier this year by completing the technology evaluation phase of the pilot. Chip technology was selected over all other technologies tested, including optical stripe, 2D barcode and magnetic stripe. The prototype phase for this program is imminent in this extensive identity credential program that will eventually lead to a smart ID in the hands of more than 12 million transportation workers in the United States. Another very high-profile government project involves contactless smart chips and U.S. passports. This project, recently delayed due to bidding issues, is expected to resume shortly with its plan to incorporate contactless chips into the more than 7 million passports issued each year in the United States. Currently under U.S. law countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program must put a program in place to issue tamper-resistant, biometrically- enabled passports by October 2004; however, it is widely expected that this date will be extended in order to give countries more time to comply. The U.S. Passport office is aggressively working to meet deadlines for U.S.-issued passports. There are several factors common to both U.S. enterprises and the federal government causing this convergence on smart cards. Both want more security at physical access points and for computer networks. Both want ID credentials with greater security against counterfeiting or use by someone other than the person to whom the credential was issued. Finally, both sectors increasingly see the risks associated with relying on password protection for securing information systems and databases. A new Alliance white paper published in March 2004, Secure Identification Systems: Building a Chain of Trust, introduces the challenges faced by ID systems and discusses the elements that are key to implementing a secure ID system. The report, written for executives and managers, is available from the Smart Card Alliance online store at

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Categories: Payments & Commerce | Cards
Countries: World
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Payments & Commerce