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The Future For Smart Cards

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Are smart cards still considered the wave of the future and what should be doing to prepare for them?

I believe smart cards are the wave of the future for consumer use, commercial use and internal network security. Europe already has a head start on the U.S., as smart cards are in much wider use there.

One thing that would be good to look at in getting prepared for smart cards is to consider the software they utilize and start planning today for the possibility of deploying it at a later time.

For example, one common andpowerful feature provided by smart cards is the storage of encryption keys and digital signatures. There is one type of asymmetric encryption system which is particularly suited to the use of smart cards, Elliptic Curve Cryptosystems (ECC).

While there are many other types and more popular asymmetric encryption systems, RSA being just one, ECC has the highest strength per key bit of any asymmetric encryption system. ECC keys of 160 bits have the same computational difficulty of being broken as a RSA key of approximately 1,024 bits. This huge difference in bit size means it takes much less time to encrypt and decrypt (a big consideration in any encryption utilization), as well as taking much less storage space on such smart cards which have very limited memory.

Any financial institution currently considering installing or upgrading its encryption capabilities or deploying a Public Key Infrastructure, (PKI) should consider the possibility of going with an ECC instead of the vastly more popular RSA or other asymmetric encryption system because it may be more cost- and time-effective to go with a technology today that will provide more options in the future.

First published on 9/3/01

First published on 09/03/2001

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Filed under security as: 
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