Creating Uniform Security Across the Police Force - Page 2

Identity and access management (IAM) continues to a huge challenge for police forces throughout the country.  Enabling employees to quickly and securely access data and facilities has always been a high priority.

 By Holly Sacks
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But perhaps their biggest disadvantage is that they are very easy to clone. You can even buy a mag-stripe reader from a high-street store that will let you take data off one of these cards and use it to create an unlimited number of clones. This is clearly an unacceptable risk for the police force where officers have access to the personal details of criminals like terrorists and paedophiles. The consequences of this information being released into the public domain by someone with unauthorised access are easy to imagine.

A far more secure and flexible option is the new generation of contactless smart cards that use encryption and the internal computing power of a smart chip, reducing the risk of data being compromised or cards being duplicated.  Contactless cards can offer three levels of security: single, dual or three-factor authentication. With single-factor authentication, using the card on its own will grant access to a system or open a door. Dual-factor authentication adds an extra level of security in the form of a PIN code. Three-factor authentication goes a step further, using a PIN code and an extra security measure such as a biometric scan. Contactless smart cards are traditionally used for physical access control and are now being adopted for logical access control as well.

The other advantage of contactless smart cards is the possibility for adding other applications such as contactless payments for the staff canteen, time and attendance records and authorised equipment check out.

As with all areas of the civil service, the cost of implementing and deploying a new, nationwide IAM system is a key consideration. However, the need to identify, authorise and authenticate users is a critical one.  It's clear that government and police see this drive as one that is definitely worthy of investment.

Portable and secure, contactless smart cards are fast becoming a valuable tool for safeguarding physical security and guaranteeing the privacy of sensitive electronic information across many sectors. When weighing up the costs of smart card technology against the benefits, it's obvious that they can offer considerable value to the UK police force, saving time and money, protecting officers and civilian staff and safeguarding the public's data.

HID Global is exhibiting at Infosecurity Europe 2010, the No. 1 industry event in Europe held on 27th – 29th April in its new venue Earl's Court, London. The event provides an unrivalled free education programme, exhibitors showcasing new and emerging technologies and offering practical and professional expertise. For further information please visit www.infosec.co.uk.

This article was originally published on Jan 13, 2010
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