The Future of Smart
Cards"> ActivIdentity, based in Fremont, Calif., predicts that between 50 million and 100 million smart cards will be put into the hands of U.S. citizens over the next 10 years including those issued through state and local governments, such as for drivers licenses. As business discover new ways to tap into the IDs, the company contends that smart cards could even someday replace traditional credit and debit cards as accepted forms of payment.However, he also believes that the HSPD-12 deadline marks a significant milestone in the overall movement to adopt the tools. "There should be a natural evolution from that community of existing cardholders over next several years as when we get that level of good electronic credentials out there, things really start to get interesting in terms of pricing and applications that will help drive adoption among commercial businesses," he said. "We may not see them in the hands of consumers for another five to 10 years, but businesses will get the picture as they see people like government contractors finding great internal uses." As an example, Greco pointed out that smart cards can be used as a way to provide or revoke access to sensitive documents, which could help companies meet regulatory compliance requirements and ward off internal data leaks. While businesses have only just begun to unify their network and physical security operations, smart cards can serve as a powerful vehicle for allowing authentication across disparate systems, he said. For emerging consumer applications, the executive highlights the use of smart cards in Belgium, where a government program to distribute the cards has led to their use as a form of identification for accessing Internet chat rooms in the name of protecting minors from online predators. At least one industry expert agreed that HSPD and other guidelinessuch as the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 requiring states to design new drivers licenses with more sophisticated authentication capabilitieswill push smart cards into more Americans hands in the next several years. "It may only be to a small degree over the next several years that we see things moving outside the government programs, but as more government workers get them, and people get them as licenses, that could certainly encourage more commercial businesses to adopt smart cards," said Gregg Kreizman, analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner. "I dont think every American will have one in five years, but something like HSPD does help the industry take a big step forward." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
The private sector smart card revolution might not happen overnight, said Tom Greco, vice president of enabling infrastructures for CyberTrust, a Herndon, Va.-based provider of smart card software and consulting services.