Smart Card Reader Initiative
In February 2007, the Smart Card Alliance formally launched an initiative called the Digital Security Initiative (DSI). The goal of the DSI is to make smart cards the preferred method to securely access digital networks. To achieve that goal, the DSI has identified a number of Obstacles/Opportunities and is developing responses to each.
Smart Card Reader infrastructure obstacles
One of the identified Obstacles is a lack of smart card reader infrastructure. While great progress has been made in the last decade, it is only recently that they are becoming standard equipment on a number of platforms. It is our vision to make smart card readers as common as PC’s floppy drives and to hasten that day, the DSI is taking a number of steps, including the attached Open Letter. This letter will be sent to the CEOs of the major hardware manufacturers, included in DSI collateral material, and potentially placed in business publications.
Please read the following Open Letter and add your organization to the list of other firms who have endorsed this effort.
The Digital Security Initiative
Open Letter to Manufacturers of Personal Computers, PDAs, Set Top Boxes and Internet Appliances
The advent of E-commerce magnifies the challenges confronting businesses to secure their digital infrastructure. Customers, providers and their partners have a vital need to accurately verify network identity. Any weakness in the verification process will inevitably lead to increased risk of fraud, data compromise and loss of client trust. As more and more aspects of everyday life come within the ambit of on-line service the greater will the need be to provide certainty and security.
Consumers’ concerns over privacy issues and the loss of control over their personal data are well documented. Individuals diligently create and seek to remember growing lists of user ids and passwords to access on-line services. They repeatedly complete registration forms replicating the same information with the expectation that the recipient company will protect it.
The purchasers and users of personal computers, PDAs, Set Top Boxes and Internet Appliances are best served when the pertinent product also alleviates the drudgery of related tasks.
Both businesses and consumers require a secure and convenient method to access each other for the exchange of data; products and services to meet their respective needs and wants.
Smart card technology provides both security and convenience. To many, this is not news. Smart card technology is mature and widely deployed. Smart cards are the ideal portable container for account, public key, and biometric information. Domestic programs by the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, American Express, Visa, numerous corporations and millions of university students attest to the viability of the technology. Internationally, countries have deployed national banking and health care smart card systems such as the 40M+ Visa smart cards in France, and 80M+ healthcare smart cards in Germany. There are over 300 million smart cards securing the GSM mobile phone network and the Industry is shipping close to two billion cards a year.
The Personal Computer industry has acknowledged the merit of smart card technology by including it as an optional element of the PC2001 System Design Guide. The industry’s most significant technology leaders openly advocate smart card technology as a solution for network identities.
2001 will have more smart card ready computing products than ever, but not nearly enough. The need for secure and convenient on-line access will continue to increase, as will the current attendant problems, unless manufacturers commit to accelerate their solution. For the benefit of consumers, end users, and businesses, it is time to address the issue by taking a simple, yet significant step:
Make smart card readers a standard feature of your products, and help unleash the promise of e-commerce.
We are confident you share our aim to provide certain, secure and simple connectivity. We pledge our collaboration for achieving it.
Current Smart Card Reader infrastructure
The smart card reader infrastructure has changed but not the extent desired by the DSI. Networks continue to rely on user ids and passwords. It was shown that smart card readers could be easily included in laptop designs and several models were introduced, but smart card readers were not adopted.
Some large corporations did deploy token based or smart card based security, but not to the extent hoped for. Those that did pioneered the technology and thus bore a large part of the development cost. Smart cards and smart card readers are an obvious solution to the open security issues, but still the world has not adopted the technology. I can only hope that my children will look at smart cards and smart card readers they way they now look at an iPhone.