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Are smart cards tamper-proof?

While choosing to use smart cards to authenticate users may seem like the smart move, know that they are not tamper-proof. Discover what industry standards are available to protect your organization if your smart cards are tampered with.

Are there any industry standards that deal with tamper-proofing technologies associated with smart cards? There are many technologies out there (holograms, microprinting, etc.), but each has its pros and cons when it comes to cost and overall value to tamper resistance. Could you speak to this at all?

There are many standards out there for smart card implementations. To learn more about them the best place to start is at The Smart Card Alliance. The SCA is a non-profit industry trade group that promotes smart card technology and use. They have the most complete list of smart card standards on their Web site, http://www.smartcardalliance.org.

To learn about standards for tamper-proof technologies, visit the International Standards Organization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) site. ISO/IEC's standards cover physical characteristics of smart cards.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has also issued the Government Smart Card-Interoperability Specification for complying with government security criteria. Among those are standards for selecting smart card containers.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) also issues smart card standards, but for private industry, not just government.

More Information

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  • This was last published in May 2006

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