NSA will test a high-level access card

NSA will test a high-level access card

The National Security Agency is planning to test its own version of the Common Access Card at the end of next year.

While most Defense Department employees will use the Common Access Card, top NSA officials will use the Universal Secure Access smart card for physical and network access to DOD facilities.

NSA recently asked SSP-Litronic Inc. of Irvine, Calif., to come up with a stronger, more secure smart card for its Key Management Infrastructure initiative to develop NSA's public-key infrastructure.

"This card will be used for higher levels of security than the CAC," said Michael Butler, chief of smart-card programs at DOD.

Forte meets the FIPS 140-2 security requirements developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology with Level 3 assurance.

The card is embedded with a 32-bit cryptomath processor and a chip. "It's a minicomputer on a smart card," said Richard Depew, president and chief operating officer of the parent company.
"It has a lot more processing capability to do encryption and decryption on the card."

General Dynamics Communication Systems of Needham, Mass., under a $24.4 million contract from NSA to install KMI, is running the Forte pilot at the end of next year.

"The USA card is not presently seen as a direct replacement for the CAC nor will it be fielded to all DOD employees," Butler said.

The KMI initiative is designed to work with the CAC to make it interoperable with the CAC.

"The CAC was made to integrate the multiple identification cards throughout the infrastructure," Butler said.

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