Secure Smart Card Technology Solutions for Identity Management: Cardholder and IT System Solutions Need Not Only to Protect Information but Also Meet Social Needs for Security, Freedom and Mobility

By Curtis, David | Journal of Banking and Financial Services, February-March 2005 | Go to article overview

Secure Smart Card Technology Solutions for Identity Management: Cardholder and IT System Solutions Need Not Only to Protect Information but Also Meet Social Needs for Security, Freedom and Mobility


Curtis, David, Journal of Banking and Financial Services


In today's fast-paced world we all appreciate greater mobility and the freedom to conduct all sorts of transactions when and where we choose. We can now access mobile banking, send and receive SMS messages, use ATMs for all sorts of high-speed transactions, and access buildings or log in to work from remote locations 24 x 7.

Although technology enables this, it raises issues of identity, not only through the need to ensure that the person operating or conducting the transaction is the person authorised to do so, but also requiring that the system has appropriate and secure audit trails for all operators. This means that there are clear roles for the service provider; secure ID document specialists; and system integrators.

Security issues

New security challenges have been created by the global acceptance of e-commerce, electronic payments and more recently, mobile commerce. These challenges can be grouped under five broad areas for attention by governments, corporate group security and risk managers:

* Citizen ID;

* Physical access control;

* Time and attendance;

* Logical access control; and

* Transaction authentication. Let's look briefly at each of these.

Citizen ID

This can relate to traditional or default photo ID, such as a driver's licence, concession entitlement card for access to some welfare benefit, and for banking customers, the enabler is most frequently the issued debit or credit card.

All of these are currently subject to varying levels of fraud in Australia and it is often higher in other countries for certain card types.

Physical access control

This refers to the requirements for a bank to secure any physical asset against illegal access to buildings or areas as well as to other assets, such as computers.

Increasingly, banks are deploying turnstile type access into buildings or areas, often with RFID tag or contact card devices to control who is 'inside' a particular strategic facility. Over 20 security features can be incorporated into a card; the real value of these is built around the inspection procedures and the discipline in performing those visual inspections. As this is often highly subjective, there is a clear preference for sophisticated electronic tolls, which remove the subjectivity.

Time and attendance

Organisations have a clear need to confirm the physical presence of a person and the length of time they remain in a designated or authorised area.

Logical access control

Security and risk managers in organisations have to safeguard access to data stored on servers, in PCs, on networks and increasingly in mobile devices such as our Personal Data Application gadgets (PDAs) such as those from iPaQ, Palm, or 02 XDA.

Transaction authentication

This is an important area, as more transactions are being conducted in the virtual world, typified by the growth in web-based applications. While this can be a key driver of growth for business managers, it must be balanced by the associated threats, vulnerabilities and exposures. Solutions are urgently needed to address the need for identification procedures that guarantee the integrity of transactions, and the smart card industry together with IT systems partners have an important role to play in developing and implementing these secure solutions.

We can now assume that security is critical in the implementation of an identity management system, with banking customers expecting secure, web-enabled service delivery with optional value added applications being readily available for downloading.

The security aspects of smart cards and how they help manage IT systems and networks

There are four main security issues that are critical for banks' IT systems:

* The availability of data to the right persons at the right time;

* That there is secure authentication or verification to guarantee that the user wishing to conduct a transaction or access data is legitimate;

* Confidentiality--ensuring that personal information is protected from inappropriate or illegal access and use; and

* That data integrity is preserved intact and remains unchanged by inappropriate or illegal access and use. …

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