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ActivCard Gets Physical (Security) with Linux - page 3

If This Had Been an Actual Emergency

  • June 26, 2003
  • By Brian Proffitt

Currently, the Department of Defense is undergoing the migration to a Common Access Card, a program that will ultimately provide an integrated public key infrastructure for secure email by October 2003, as well as the armed services mandate to implement the standard DoD smart card for every single member of the U.S. armed forces.

This huge customer demand alone, Putnam explained, is what led ActivCard to port its ActivCard Gold product, historially a Windows middleware client, over to the Linux platform, as well as Solaris and Mac OS X. The simple truth is that the U.S. military has a very heterogeneous collection of desktop systems that goes way beyond Microsoft, and ActiveCard had to shift to meet their client's need.

ActivCard's goal, then, was to meet identity management, secure email and CAC smart card functionality that would work across all desktops and workstations.

Now that the company is offering a multi-platform client for their smart card technology, Putnam predicts a lot of the trepidation for the enterprise to start using this security system will fade away.

"The enterprise is behind on smart card deployment," he explained, a trend he expects to pick up now that his company's software is available for four major PC platforms. Right now, he said, "30 percent of the Fortune 100 companies have smart card projects underway."

Putnam added that ActivCard spent a lot of time making sure the clients for these platforms functioned identically, so that any user moving from system to system would have a transparent experience using their smart card. Administrators will also be able to jump from a Windows client to a Linux client with ease.

ActivCard has not only served its country, but it has also been a good citizen within the open source communuity. When the move to the Linux platform had been started back in July of 2002, the company's developers worked with the MUSCLE (Movement for the Use of Smart Cards in a Linux Environment) project to take advantage of the work already accomplished by the open source development group.

MUSCLE, which is managed by David Corcoran, has been a fairly active proponent of smart card technology on Linux for quite some time. While he could not elaborate on the details, Putnam said that ActivCard contributed back to the MUSCLE project as well.

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