Smartcards and hand geometry may provide stricter security measures

September 2002 Access Control & Identity Management

While smartcards can provide quality security measures for applications such as access control, it is possible to crack them - and smartcard developers continually have to identify these possible weaknesses and come up with counter measures.

According to Clive Handley, executive at NamITech New and Emerging Business, smartcards, used in conjunction with fingerprint recognition and hand geometry, have the ability to significantly cut down on fraud and to increase security.

"An investigation by the US Justice Department, known as Operation, discovered that TV operators could be losing more than $6 million (about R60m) a year in the United States alone thanks to fraudulent conditional access cards," says Handley.

"Despite the swap-outs and electronic counter measures operators use to kill pirated cards, hackers are continually inventing new ways of trying to bypass security. On the other hand, chip manufacturers," said Handley, "are continually improving features and safeguards."

When it comes to applications such as access control, smartcards can be used in conjunction with other security technology to elevate the safety standards even further. "It is now possible to have employees identify themselves at access control points by means of chip cards carrying biometric data. In fact, since the 11 September Twin Towers attack in the Unites States, this type of technology has been implemented at a number of airports.

"One of the other possible biometric-based solutions that could be used is hand geometry. Even locally this technology is being successfully used, especially at very sensitive areas. Anglo Gold, for instance, is using hand geometry for access control and time and attendance at its mineshafts. This technology has removed the risk of unidentified persons entering the mines undetected. The verification process takes less than a second; it is reliable and definitely enhances security levels," concludes Handley.

For more information: NamITech, 011 458 0000.

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