BLM workers to get smart cards

The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management plans to equip its 13,000 employees with smart cards.

The cards will provide access to BLM's buildings and computer systems. The bureau, which is responsible for managing more than 260 million acres of public land, has offices nationwide and its information technology infrastructure is highly dispersed.

BLM and other Interior agencies have taken heat for a lack of network protection as part of a class-action lawsuit against the department. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Interior to disconnect from the Internet in December 2001 after a computer security firm broke into its systems.

BLM, which went back online a year ago, hopes to strengthen its defenses with smart cards.

The bureau has selected an integrated solution designed by VeriSign Inc. that uses the company's Managed Public Key Infrastructure. The cards also will serve as the basis for digital signatures, enabling secure e-mail and authenticated Web portal access.

BLM officials decided to move forward on the program after completing a pilot project with 1,000 users.

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