State rolls out smart cards

The State Department has begun distributing smart cards for U.S.-based employees to use to access facilities and to secure electronic transactions.

The department has handed out more than 9,000 cards so far and plans to issue 60,000 to 70,000 more, according to Colleen Kulhanek, vice president of marketing for Datakey Inc., which provides the department's basic card technology, related PC software and the PC-based smart card readers.

Besides serving as a high-tech identification card, the smart card supports the use of public-key infrastructure technology. PKI combines encryption software, digital certificates and other technology to protect transactions. This includes the creation of a secure method of logging on to personal computers.

Entrust Inc. supplies the digital certificates, XTec Inc. provides other card readers and the badge system, and Software House is responsible for the system that controls access to facilities.

Workers are very positive about the card, said Lolie Kull, access control smart card implementation manager for the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. "They are very excited about getting a new card and having the access control system work better than it does today."

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