Smart cards: The next generation

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Organizations seeking the efficiency of one smart card for both physical and logical access can obtain hybrid cards that have two chips or can wait for cards sporting dual-interface chips.

Dual-interface technology gets both contact and contactless jobs done on a single chip. Cards bearing dual-interface chips are already in use mostly in Europe. For example, Calypso, an electronic ticketing standard used in Paris and other European cities, uses a dual-interface solution, according to Jean-Eric Garnier, vice president of banking, retail and contactless technology at smart card vendor Gemplus SA.

Neville Pattinson, director of business development and technology at Schlumberger Ltd., said he believes dual-interface technology will first take root in the commercial market.

But acceptance in the government sector will be slower, Pattinson and other industry executives contend, because agencies are wary of the new technology's security. One concern is that storage of data on a dual-interface chip would be subject to snooping with a portable, wireless reader.

Some vendor executives, however, expressed confidence in the security of dual-interface technology, noting that it will take government officials time to feel at ease with the chips.

But Brett Michaels, director of federal sales at RSA Security Inc., said even smart card chips with underlying encryption may be vulnerable to different methods of attack. "Agencies are still deciding how they want to deal with associated risk," he said.

"As these products become more robust and available, we will examine the potential to migrate the [Common Access Card] to dual-interface technology," said Capt. Rob Conway, fleet liaison officer with the Navy's eBusiness Operations Office. "As with every new CAC platform, this dual- interface technology will need to undergo an extensive security evaluation."

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