Tech Industry

Security Dynamics adds smart cards

Teaming with Gemplus, the smart cards will be used not only to authenticate users for computer networks but also to control physical access to buildings.

Security Dynamics is adding smart cards from Gemplus to its line of security tokens.

Marked by a magnetic stripe on the back and containing an embedded computer chip, the cards will be used not only to authenticate users for computer networks but also to control physical access to buildings.

The new product, which works with its ACE security server software, augments Security Dynamics' SecurID line of software and hardware security tokens. Product offerings include credit-card sized tokens and "key fobs" carried on a key chain.

"We think we are at the beginning of the smart card growth in the network security space," Ted Kamionek, product manager at Security Dynamics, said in announcing the new product.

Separately, CEO Charles Stuckey told the BancBoston Robertson Stephens investor conference today in San Francisco that the company sees service providers as an important new channel for its products. MCI WorldCom has already become Security Dynamics' top reseller, he said.

Although smart cards have caught on in Europe (particularly France) and parts of Asia, they have been slow to gain acceptance in the United States. Security Dynamics is hoping that multiple-use cards will boost their appeal here.

For the Security Dynamics' model 1100 smart cards, price won't be a selling point. While its hardware tokens now start at $60, the smart cards will begin at $40 and require a $66 smart-card reader. One of each will be required for every secured workstation. But the company hopes putting multiple applications on the same card will interest corporate security buyers.

Meanwhile, the company's partnership with Gemplus, which commands 40 percent of the world's smart card market, means Security Dynamics also gets access to developers already creating software for Gemplus cards. In addition, Gemplus has a network of systems integrators who help with large-scale implementations.

Security Dynamics' new Keon product, public key infrastructure (PKI) software for issuing and managing digital certificates, already works with Gemplus' model 2100 smart cards. Security Dynamics acquired Keon in July 1996 with its purchase of Swedish firm Dynasoft, which called the smart card Bok.

Later this year, Security Dynamics and Gemplus will introduce a new version of its smart card that can be used both with Keon digital certificates and as an authentication token with its security server software.