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Managing identities
March 2006, Access Control & Identity Management

With smartcards, physical access identity management complements IT identity management

As organisations open up their networks to let partners, customers and suppliers connect to their networks, they become vulnerable to illegitimate access and identity theft. Not only can outsiders access the network and physical access control system more easily, so can employees. Thus, there is a need for an identity authorisation solution that alleviates opportunities for fraud and unauthorised access, a solution not enough companies follow.

Seeing a potential market, the Microsoft website proclaims, "The smartcard will become an integral part of the Windows platform because smartcards provide new and desirable features as revolutionary to the computer industry as the introduction of the mouse or compact disc."

Increased security demands continue to speed the adoption of smartcard technology. The major advantage of smartcards over other credentials is that they can have multiple applications on a single card. Major uses include:

* Employee identification and authentication.

* Physical security.

* Building security.

* Storage of biometric information.

* Secure access to the Internet.

* Secure transactions over the Internet.

Multicredential readers: by reading all leading proximity and smartcard credentials, let users leverage the lower cost of smartcards without having to tear out old readers for new ones
Multicredential readers: by reading all leading proximity and smartcard credentials, let users leverage the lower cost of smartcards without having to tear out old readers for new ones

Administrative applications, such as property management, storage of medical records, electronic purses, tracking cafeteria purchases and a multitude of uses, are possible, while still performing all the major uses of the earlier bulleted items. More importantly, this data can be safely stored with smartcards.

Institutions are taking advantage of smartcards

In the US, close to 1 million smartcards are being used in the college market alone, representing approximately one in 17 students.

For instance, Clemson University's Tiger 1 Card is their official ID card. In addition to being the student's personal identification card, many departments use the Tiger 1 Card as a means to grant access to their information and services. Tiger 1 Cards serve as debit cards to access funds deposited into 'TigerStripe' accounts, enabling students to obtain university dining services, check out library books and access residential halls, campus recreation centres, and athletic ticket privileges. From a teacher requiring to see a student's Tiger 1 Card to take a test to needing it to purchase discounted software, the Tiger 1 Card is a necessity of everyday campus life.

In 2004, Clemson expanded the Tiger 1 program to include off-campus merchants. Each Clemson student uses the Tiger 1 Card an average of 18 times per day.

Smartcard migration in the private sector is accelerating

"We are currently switching from magnetic stripe to Mifare cards," reports Jeremy Brewer, card access administrator for Fifth Third Bank, headquartered in Cincinnati. "We want to stay on top of technology."

At Noridian, which provides a variety of insurance products and administrative services across the western United States, the access control system is linked to the personnel (human relations - HR) system to control which employees are currently employed by the company. The linkage of these systems ensures that as employees are terminated or re-assigned, the access control is completely synchronised with the personnel moves, without manual intervention.

Noridian has put together a world-class integration system using GE's Secure Perfect 4.O Enterprise as its security platform, which integrates into the organisation's PeopleSoft system used for human resources. In this integrated system, Secure Perfect pulls down certain fields, such as first name/last name/employee ID number/employee status, from PeopleSoft, not the access control system, so that there are no variances.

When Noridian Mutual upgraded its security system, smartcards were ordered for the approximately 2000 employees.

Smartcards provide enhanced security

Using single-factor authentication, such as user ID, for information or physical access control systems access creates a significant security risk. Such password-based methods, although chosen by most enterprises, are very susceptible to the problems they were designed to eliminate. They are written down on desk pads, sticky notes put on the monitor screen, scraps of paper kept in the wallet or written on the back of the ID card. They are even sent over the Internet. When sets of passwords are needed, users choose those easy to remember, such as last names and one of the most common of all - 'password'. When passwords are forgotten, help desks are contacted, at a cost.

A card only user ID can be easily compromised and storing such data on corporate networks introduces additional vulnerability to attackers who gain network access or insider fraud. Other developments are also demanding a solution for strong authentication because:

1) The deployment of Web services to facilitate interactions among diverse systems and applications creates holes in the system.

2) Systems, which depend on credentials created for one location being accepted for authorised access in another, produce opportunities for fraudulent use.

3) Single sign-on (SSO), which consolidates application-specific authentication, exacerbates security as it simplifies access for both legitimate and illegitimate users.

4) Standardising on the Web and offering SSO and authorised access control to both Web-based internal and externally exposed applications and legacy client/server and mainframe applications can be a recipe for disaster.

5) And, as previously noted, regulatory requirements created by Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPPA and others mandates the need for both strong policies regarding access and proof of their application via audit trails.

6) Wireless networks installed across enterprises and organisations further erode the traditional network boundary and open up networks to attackers. Unlike eavesdroppers on wired LANs, WLAN eavesdroppers do not have be on site to make a connection to the network. And, passwords have been the authentication method of choice for wireless access, exposing network assets to additional vulnerability.

Thus, strong authentication requires the use of two or three factors. Smartcards work with other authentication techniques by storing some combination of password files, public key infrastructure certificates, one-time password seed files or biometric image templates on a single card.

Organisations then combine more than one factor to improve the security and privacy of the overall authentication process. For example, authentication might require something you have, the smartcard; something you know, a personal identification number or password; and something you are, a unique physical characteristic or biometric identifier.

Lastly, but very importantly, smartcards are the most secure solution in access control. They use cryptography, encryption and the internal computing power of smart chips to provide the most secure access control card solution possible.

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Further reading:

  • Extracting value from security
    March 2018, Panasonic South Africa, Axis Communications SA, Bosch Security and Safety Systems, Fidelity ADT Security, Zhejiang Dahua Technology, This Week's Editor's Pick, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Access Control & Identity Management, Asset Management, EAS, RFID, Integrated Solutions
    Retail environments are arguably the primary area where security success or failure affects everybody, from the owners and managers of the retail location, through to employees and the security personnel as well as customers and other people visiting to shop, work or just hang around.
  • Smart time recorder
    March 2018, ZKTeco, Products, Access Control & Identity Management
    P20 is a brand new electronic time recorder for attendance records, including late attendance, absence and exceptions etc.
  • Bosch Security Systems to become Bosch Building Technologies
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    Effective March 1, 2018, Bosch Security Systems will be known as Bosch Building Technologies, while also merging its video, intrusion detection, access control and management software business units into a single unit.
  • IDEMIA buys Otono Networks
    March 2018, News, Access Control & Identity Management
    IDEMIA (previously Morpho), has announced the acquisition of Otono Networks and its eSIM orchestration technology.
  • Tanzania selects electronic passports
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    Tanzania selects HID Global to deliver e-Immigration solutions and electronic passports.
  • Paxton announces scholarship recipients
    March 2018, Paxton Access, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management, News
    Paxton has announced the first recipients of its new scholarship programme in conjunction with the University of Brighton.
  • Secured access control
    March 2018, Suprema, Cyber Security, Access Control & Identity Management
    With the advances over the years in physical security products, these too have become open to cyber threats resulting in monetary and safety risks.
  • IoT, cybersecurity and access control
    March 2018, Axis Communications SA, This Week's Editor's Pick, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Access Control & Identity Management, Integrated Solutions
    Right now, we are beginning the next phase of digital transformation in the security industry – the move to connect all physical security components to the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • The integration of technology into guarding
    March 2018, ZKTeco, Security Services & Risk Management, Access Control & Identity Management
    In today’s rapidly changing information society, large corporations and small companies alike increasingly require modern data collection and auto-ID systems.
  • UHF RFID standalone terminal
    March 2018, ZKTeco, Products, Access Control & Identity Management
    The U1000 and U2000 are long distance RFID access control machines which integrate functions of UHF readers and controllers.
  • Two-dimensional supply chain
    March 2018, Retail (Industry), Access Control & Identity Management
    The 2D barcode reader is the ideal technology for verifying the identity of a driver and for ensuring the correct quantity of goods is received.
  • Dahua smart locks
    March 2018, Zhejiang Dahua Technology, Access Control & Identity Management, Products
    Dahua Technology has released a new series of smart locks, the Bluetooth series and Bluetooth and wireless 433 series to bring enhanced and more convenient protection.

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