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HP smartens up security

A new initiative gives smart cards a key role in security for intranets and the Internet.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) is introducing an initiative today that gives smart cards a key role in its security scheme for corporate networks and the Internet.

As reported earlier by CNET, HP is announcing two smart card solutions with smart card manufacturer Gemplus and database software vendor Informix (IFMX), one for internal corporate networks and extranets and the other for the public Internet when customers or consumers interact with corporate Web sites.

Called the HP Praesidium/ImagineCard initiative, the two turnkey systems will link smart cards to HP's Praesidium enterprise security framework. With ImagineCard, companies can issue personal smart cards to consumers, partners, and employees, and create secure business-to-business and Web applications.

"Smart cards are really a strong way of securing Web-based or client-server applications," said HP's Thierry Costa, global smart card business manager. "Our vision is to eventually go to multifunction cards, to use smart cards not only for security but for other functions--accessing buildings or cash in the cafeteria.

"We believe the immediate market opportunity is with security," Costa added. HP intends to update its smart card product offering, which can be managed centrally within its security network every six months.

Security experts like smart cards because they require more than just a password, as software-based security schemes do. Instead, users must have both the right passwords and their own smart cards--plastic plates the size of a credit card and embedded with chips. They also are portable and can be used with different PCs or devices.

HP expects to build smart card readers into the keyboards of at least some models in its Vectra line of business PCs. Until then, smart card readers will plug into a external port.

Both ImagineCard solutions include developer kits and deployment kits.

Both ImagineCard solutions will ship with the HP smart card management system and HP hardware, both an HP 9000 D-Class server running HP-UX and an HP Vectra PC running Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or Windows NT 4.0 Server.

Also included are Gemplus cards and smart card readers and an Informix-OnLine Dynamic Server database. A smart card printer from DataCard card printer and Entrust Technologies' public-key crypographic infrastructure complete the solution.

U.S. pricing will range from about $60 to $250 per user, depending on the number of installations. HP expects to ship ImagineCard solutions worldwide April 1.