Industry officials discuss plans for meeting federal ID standards

Security and technology experts on Wednesday discussed strategies that private manufacturers can implement to meet federal standards for government identification cards and security systems.

At the Smart Cards in Government Conference, industry officials said they are content with federal regulations for IDs and are optimistic of their ability to meet them.

The computer-security division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in February issued standards for the development of ID cards for government employees. The proposed standards, known as FIPS 201, require that IDs function across jurisdictions so employees can use their cards to access buildings and pass security stations at other agencies.

FIPS 201 further would mandate that the IDs electronically obtain biometric information like fingerprints for employees and that such data be secure.

Robert Merkert of SCM Microsystems said he would like government agencies to provide certified test cards so companies can more effectively measure the performance of reading devices. He said the Defense Department already has issued such test cards, and he would like to see the General Services Administration and NIST do the same.

"This is something that would help us move forward," he said.

CoreStreet Chief Technology Officer David Engberg said agencies can streamline the deployment process of their ID systems by authenticating cardholders before they enroll in their programs. Periodic checks should be conducted after individuals are enrolled, he said.

Michael Neumann of StepNexus said technologies that operate on "contact-less" interfaces mostly have been able to function only as single-use applications. He said privacy standards prevent most contact-less cards from working in multiple environments.

By pre-configuring such devices to recognize different environments and adjust to them, he said, their capability can be dramatically improved.

"One of the advantages of living in a wireless world is the ability to build networks as they are needed," Neumann said.

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