RSA offers do-it-yourself smart cards

There are passwords for voice mail, passwords for network access, passwords for the bank and pretty soon there could be a password required to use a company coffee maker.

And just when you’ve finally memorized all those codes and numbers, along comes RSA Security with a solution designed to wipe most of them away.

RSA Security Inc., based in Bedford, Mass., has announced the RSA SecurID Card Studio, a cryptographic smart card personalization system that the company said allows a single card to be programmed for not only network access but also digital credentials, physical building access and corporate identification.

According to Ted Kamionek, RSA’s senior product manager for Smart Cards, customer demand spawned the development of the SecurID Card Studio.

“We see more and more customers wanting a greater choice of their authentication solutions,” Kamionek said. “Passwords are great for some instances when the security of information being protected isn’t very high.”

RSA said the Card Studio allows organizations to reduce administrative and security costs by producing their own RSA SecurID 3100 Smart Cards. It also simplifies user experience by combining multiple functions including system access, corporate IDs and building access onto a single smart card.

Kamionek said the RSA SecurID Card Studio management systems comes complete with imaging software, a high-end digital camera, a high-end printer, PC, CPU and desktop console.

“Basically, (customers) plug it in and they are up and running.”

According to Senior Security Analyst Pete Lindstrom with Hurwitz Group in Framingham, Mass., there is a noticeable drive in the industry towards stronger means of authentication.

“The challenge is really a cultural one,” Lindstrom said. “The Card Studio is an interesting addition to this mix. I’m curious to see how it will do. It is using a physical security issue model with a focus more on logical security.”

Lindstrom anticipates that smart cards will have a strong place at the table, maybe not this year, but over the next 12 to 18 months. However, Lindstrom did note that he is wary of the Card Studio being the obvious choice for enterprises.

“RSA has a great name and good recognition in authentication,” he said. “I suspect that if anyone can do it, it’s going to be them.”

Kamionek said that SecurID Card Studio provides a single point of deployment for smart cards, and requires only one PIN for access to the network.

“It is one system that automates the process and gets rid of some of the network administrator’s headaches,” Kamionek said.

RSA SecurID Card Studio is available now through RSA Security and pricing starts at US$50,000 and US$2.00 per user licence.

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