Smart Card Security Solved:
The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader
In both the federal and corporate landscape, the need for greater protection of information is forcing IT departments and corporate security teams to look beyond standard password/PIN-based authentication schemes. This article discusses the security risks associated with wired smart card reader solutions and how the wireless BlackBerry® Smart Card Reader can eliminate this risk – within a BlackBerry® solution environment, or as a stand-alone peripheral.
Most IT departments rely on two-factor authentication solutions as a means of controlling access to computers and mobile devices; the two factors being something you have (i.e. a smart card) and something you know (i.e. a password).
Scott Totzke, Vice President, Global Security Group at Research In Motion (RIM), explains the serious security risk inherent with this approach, saying, "Physically connected smart card readers force users to give up control of the smartcard at the desktop."
The security risks occur each time a user leaves his or her workstation without removing the smart card from the reader. Unlocked desktops are instantly vulnerable to unauthorized use, and smart cards can easily be stolen from physical readers. As well, users who leave secure access areas without their card effectively lock themselves out.
According to Tozke, leaving smart cards behind is a common occurrence. "One of the big problems our customers were expressing to us is the exposure they face when users leave [behind] their smart cards."
Wireless Smart Card Reader
To overcome the shortcomings of wired readers, RIM introduced the BlackBerry® Smart Card Reader. It is a lightweight wireless reader which allows proximity-based user access to both desktops and BlackBerry® smartphones – and is worn on a neck lanyard or carried in a pocket.
The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader operates on a short-range wireless connection, which can be configured such that when a user walks away from their desk, the computer automatically locks.
Similarly, if a BlackBerry smartphone becomes separated from the user, the BlackBerry smartphone locks and all the information it houses is protected.
Interestingly, the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader can also be used as a standalone desktop solution, independent of a BlackBerry Enterprise Server or any BlackBerry smartphone. "The product is both a BlackBerry peripheral and a stand-alone desktop peripheral that enables secure proximity based computer access," Totzke explains.
The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader and Bluetooth Technology
The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader was originally developed to meet the stringent requirements of the US Department of Defense, and uses Bluetooth® technology and an advanced AES-256 encryption overlay to help prevent unauthorized access to computers and BlackBerry smartphones.
"We worked with Department of Defense and a number of customers on how to develop a more secure Bluetooth implementation," says Totzke. "With the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader, we've taken Bluetooth, which was considered a [security] liability and turned it into a technology that can be used to enhance the security of your BlackBerry smartphone."
If your organization has a growing need for enhanced security of two-factor authentication, visit any of the resource links below for more information on the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader.
Podcast: BlackBerry Security and the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader
Karen Forster, editorial and strategy director for Windows® IT Pro and SQL Server Magazine, interviews Scott Totzke, Vice President, Global Security Group at Research In Motion, in a conversation that centers on mobile device security and the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader.
(Note: You will be required to fill out a registration form to download this podcast.)
View the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader Demo
Download the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader White Paper
BlackBerry Smart Card Reader Benefits Summary