DOD prepares for smart-card launch

DOD prepares for smart-card launch

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

APRIL 16'The Defense Department is going for smart cards in a big way.

Next month, the department will begin a 13-month rollout of Common Access smart cards to 4 million active military, reserve and civilian personnel.

Defense officials realize it isn't going to be an easy project. 'This is not going to be seamless and perfect,' said Mary Dixon, director of the department's Access Card Office.

Some hurdles: Interoperability specifications for cards and readers from different vendors are not yet final. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has yet to certify any cards under a Federal Information Processing Standard. And the National Security Agency is still checking the quality of encryption keys generated by the cards.

But 'a mandate says we are going to roll them out,' Dixon said this month at the RSA Conference 2001 in San Francisco, sponsored by RSA Security Inc. of Bedford, Mass.

It will be the government's first large-scale implementation of smart-card technology. Each card will carry a photo ID as well as digital certificates and encryption keys for a public-key infrastructure. They will provide both physical and digital access to Defense systems.

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