Agency adds smart cards, PKI

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is bolstering systems security by adding

public-key infrastructure and providing smart cards to 1,500 employees.

BLS will issue most of the cards to field workers who sign in to the agency's

network remotely. Currently, remote users gain access by entering a user

ID and a password, said Rick Kryger, the agency's IT security officer.

Smart cards from Datakey Inc. and PKI technology from Entrust Technology

Inc. will enable BLS administrators to control users' network access, which

will further enhance agency security, Kryger said.

BLS collects, analyzes and distributes statistical information concerning

the U.S. workforce and economy and employs numerous field agents to collect

the data.

The new system will provide a higher standard of authentication — two-factor

authentication, which relies on something people have (in this case, smart

cards) and something they know (such as a password).

"The new procedure will not only be a stronger form of authentication, but

we're also using the PKI credentials to restrict where [users] can go on

the network," he said. "That's part of the overall enhancement."

Eventually, the smart cards will be issued to every BLS worker and will

support the encryption of e-mail messages and data stored on PCs and laptops,

Kryger said. The agency is also looking into using the cards to provide

building and office access, he said.

BLS purchased the smart cards from InformaTech Inc., a Datakey partner on

the General Services Administration schedule. The cards, Entrust PKI software

and encryption software cost about $460,000, Kryger said.

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