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Managing identities
March 2006, Access Control

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:

  • Local access leaders
    April 2015, Centurion Systems, Access Control
    Centurion Systems manufactures a diverse and award-winning range of products to control the access of people and vehicles into and out of residential, commercial and industrial properties.
  • Electronic visitor management is the future
    April 2015, Ideco Biometrics, Access Control
    Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to Marius Coetzee, CEO of Ideco about visitor management in the 21st century, and how this field is changing in light of new technologies and changing legislation.
  • How to implement an effective visitor management system
    April 2015, Powell Tronics, Access Control, Identity Management
    Powell Tronics believe that access control and visitor management has moved up the list of top priorities for residential estates and business parks, to a stage where it is almost on par with standard security features such as perimeter walls, electric fencing and CCTV.
  • Easier visitor management
    April 2015, Impro Technologies, Access Control, Identity Management
    Integrated, Web-based visitor management solution manages visitors efficiently and simply.
  • Easing visitor management ­headaches
    April 2015, Centurion Systems, Access Control, Identity Management
    Is it possible to have complete security at the entrance to your complex or business park without making things unnecessarily difficult for your visitors?
  • New visitor registration on iPad
    April 2015, Taggit SA, Access Control, Identity Management
    Taggit has a visitor registration system developed for the iPad that can be customised to customers' needs and managed via the cloud.
  • Visitor management evolves
    April 2015, Access Control, Identity Management
    Visitor management services and solutions developed to suit the evolving needs of the modern day consumer.
  • Making a move into Africa
    April 2015, Access Control, Identity Management
    Hi-Tech Security Solutions speaks to the CEO of Matrix, Ganesh Jivani, about the company’s move into South Africa and Africa.
  • Controlsoft integrates HID’s new Mobile Access technology
    April 2015, Controlsoft South Africa, Access Control, Identity Management
    Controlsoft is the first company in South Africa to integrate its product portfolio with HID Global’s new Mobile Access technology.
  • Mobile Access explained
    April 2015, HID Global, Access Control, Identity Management
    HID Global’s Robbie Truter, area sales manager for sub-Saharan Africa, answers some questions on the company’s new Mobile Access solution.
  • International, multi-site security
    April 2015, Access Control, Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection, Identity Management, Enterprise Solutions
    Healthy food provider required a security solution that could be implemented in the UK and US to secure its premises without numerous sets of keys. Paxton's Net2 plus was chosen for the job.
  • Identity and access management trends for 2015
    April 2015, CA Southern Africa, Access Control, Identity Management
    CA Technologies announced five key trends for security and identity and access management (IAM) that will impact organisations and security professionals in 2015 as they compete in the application economy.

 
 
         
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