employee ID badgeOver this past year, U.S. banks have taken a giant step toward increasing the security of financial transactions by adding smart-chips to our debit and credit cards.  Now that Americans are becoming familiar with seeing chips on their bank cards, many are asking us if the same technology can be used to enhance the security of their ID cards.  The answer is a resounding YES!

In fact, over the past 20 years the U.S. Government has been rolling out chip technology for the ID cards of all its employees.  This started in the 1990’s with the CAC card program, which every member of the military and DoD has been issued.  Then after 9/11, this program was expanded to all civilian employees, through the PIV (Personal Identity and Verification) card program.  Today, these cards play a critical role in assuring the daily security of millions of federal employees.  The chips are programmed to allow access to buildings, networks, and many other services.

Implementing smart card based identity management programs can get quite complicated, because the challenges are ever-changing.  It involves the choice of appropriate software, network protocols, card readers, and of course the card technology.  The options are numerous, even overwhelming.  Fortunately, many of these elements are highly standardized, such as the physical characteristics of the chips and the related communications protocols.  These characteristics are defined in various international standards, primarily ISO/IEC 7816.  For a good introduction to the smart card standards in place, see the Smart Card Alliance overview.

Evaluating and deciding on the appropriate technologies for your company’s specific requirements will generally take some time.  However, the good news is that you can get started today.  If you are planning to increase the security of your identity management program in the future with the implementation of a chip card based program, you can begin now with your ID cards, as long as they conform to these international standards.  InstantCard offers an entry-level secure chip card, the Cryptomemory card from Atmel, which can provide an initial basis for your future secure ID badge program.  For a very low additional cost, you can add this key technology to your cards, with certainty that the cards can be read by any industry-standard smart card reader.  We carry these cards in stock, allowing you to easily take the first step toward enhanced ID card security.

Of course, if a chip is to be included on your employee ID badges, your graphics and template design will have to take that into consideration.  Our graphic designers are very familiar with these requirements, and would be pleased to help you come up with a pleasing design integrating the secure chip.  Just let them know!

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