Corporate Access Cards: Securing Corporate Networks With Military-Strength Digital Identity Solutions
by Marc Hudavert - Vice President and General Manager, ActivCard Europe - Thursday, 24 April 2003.
Corporations are increasingly focused on cost reduction and invest only where there are clearly identified operational efficiencies and a measurable return on the initial investment. IT managers are required to maximise their return on investment in all of the credential systems that they have already deployed. The key here is to deploy a solution that enables multiple digital IDs to be consolidated on a single card, thus saving the enterprise money and enhancing employee productivity.ActivCard's Corporate Access Card solution suites, the civilian equivalent of the Common Access Card, have proved themselves to be deployable, manageable, robust and very flexible in establishing and managing identity in the corporate networked environment. These smart corporate ID cards enable employees to access their corporate resources as confidently and easily as they access cash at ATM terminals. Global corporations such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett Packard have already turned to smart card-based corporate ID badges that leverage the military-strength architecture developed for the DoD to manage employees' digital IDs for access to buildings as well as for access to corporate network resources and applications, both remotely and locally. All three enterprises are deploying digital identity management solutions which enable them to consolidate on a single card the wide diversity of credentials a company has to manage for each individual user. These include a picture ID card, a remote authentication token to access network resources while on the road, PKI certificates to digitally sign emails, potentially also biometric information and any number of static passwords. The cards can also be configured to contain employee health and benefit information, payroll information and even e-cash for purchases. And they offer the flexibility of embedding the ID credentials in a variety of different form factors, including smart cards, tokens and USB keys. EMV and beyond - winning and retaining customersThere are already a significant number of promising initiatives underway in the financial sector to offer multiple applications on a bank card, thus extending the comfort of the familiar ATM experience for simple financial transactions. Croatia's Zagrebacka Banka is among leading European financial institutions which are already offering smart card-based digital identity solutions for secure online consumer and corporate banking. The bank has successfully adopted a smart card-based PKI solution which is already used by over 30,000 corporate banking customers, the largest such deployment in Europe. This has created a standard for other banks to follow.The migration towards the EMV (Europay/MasterCard/Visa) electronic payment standard will offer significant opportunities to financial service providers to deliver additional applications. E-purse, secure EMV-compliant credit/debit transactions, electronic payments and loyalty programmes are already being tested or rolled out to cardholders as part of the financial and retail organisations' strategy to win and retain customers in the highly competitive financial services marketplace. Digital ID applets embedded in the chip on the EMV card will enable these 'smart financial cards' to perform strong authentication in addition to the traditional debit/credit services, thus expanding their appeal. Looking ahead… The Corporate Access Card solution suites enable governments, enterprises and financial institutions to combine and manage multiple credentials on a single multi-application smart card-based device. The CAC does for the networked environment what the ATM or bank card has been doing for personal finance for at least twenty years …changes the way we do business. Leveraging the military-grade IT architecture developed for the US Department of Defense, the civilian CAC will enable enterprises to enhance overall business confidence. Corporate networks will be secure from the threat of unprotected digital IDs and the flexible nature of the infrastructure will mean enterprises can select just how many applications they want to download onto the card. At the same time they will be able to maximise their return on investment for a true Return on Identity.