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Hardware Solutions: Overcoming Software Limitations
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Figure 9-4 (a) SecurID token; (b) SecurID on Palm OS (a) (b)
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time scale (for example, every 60 seconds a new six-digit numeric code is produced). The second component, the SecurID token, is also aware of the user s seed record. Like the ACE/Server, the SecurID produces a random numeric code. Figure 9-5 illustrates the user interaction with one-time passwords for authentication. When users log in, they enter a four-digit PIN (known only to them) as well as the six-digit random code displayed by their token at that
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Figure 9-5 Authentication via a one-time password generator
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moment. In this way, the system can authenticate the user s entry against the entry in the back-end server.
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Challenge/Response Calculators
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Challenge/response calculators work on a premise similar to that of onetime password generators. Through the use of a back-end server component and a handheld device, an initial seed record is synchronized. In the case of challenge/response calculators, however, there is slightly more user intervention. As users log in, they are prompted with a random challenge from the host system. The users must then enter the displayed challenge into their calculator, which performs a cryptographic operation on the challenge password and displays the result. In turn, users enter this result (the response) into the host system to gain access. Figure 9-6 illustrates the common component setup and user intervention involved with challenge/response calculators.
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Figure 9-6 User intervention in challenge/ response calculators
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Challenge/response calculators tend to be protected by a PIN that the user must enter before the challenge/response sequence.
Hardware Solutions: Overcoming Software Limitations
Contact Tokens
To transfer data, most tokens must make physical contact with the reader device. For example, magnetic stripe tokens (the kind used in automated teller machines) are inserted into a reader so that the magnetic stripe makes contact with an electromagnetic sensing device. Most integrated circuit tokens require an interface in which electrical contacts located on the token physically touch matching contacts on the reader to supply such functions as power, ground, and data signals. The physical arrangement and functional definition of these contacts have an impact on the interoperability of tokens and reader devices because these devices cannot communicate unless the contacts are defined in the same way.
Smart Cards
A smart card, an intelligent token, is a credit card-sized plastic card that contains an embedded integrated circuit chip. It provides not only memory capacity but also computational capability. The self-containment of smart cards makes them resistant to attack because they do not depend on potentially vulnerable external resources. Because of this characteristic, smart cards are often used in applications that require strong security protection and authentication. For example, a smart card can act as an identification card to prove the identity of the cardholder. It also can be used as a medical card that stores the cardholder s medical history. Furthermore, a smart card can be used as a credit or debit bankcard and used for offline transactions. In all these applications, the card stores sensitive data, such as biometrics information of the card owner, personal medical history, and cryptographic keys for authentication. Figure 9-7 shows a Datakey smart card and RSA smart card.
Figure 9-7 (a) Datakey smart card; (b) RSA smart card
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Smart Card Standards
Smart card standards govern the physical properties and communication characteristics of the embedded chip. ISO 7816 is the international standard for smart cards. The standard itself is made up of six parts, each describing everything from electrical properties to card dimensions. The following is a description of each part of the ISO 7816 standard:
ISO 7816-1 Defines the physical dimensions of contact smart cards and the placement of chips, magnetic stripes, and any embossing on the cards. It also describes the required resistance to static electricity. ISO 7816-2 Defines the location, purpose, and electrical characteristics of the smart card s contacts. ISO 7816-3 Describes electronic signals and transmission protocols, defining the voltage and current requirements for the electrical contacts defined in ISO 7816-2. ISO 7816-4 Across all industries, defines a set of commands to provide access, security, and transmission of card data (that is, the card reads and writes to its memory). ISO 7816-5 Defines Application Identifiers (AIDs), which are used to identify a specific application. ISO 7816-6 Describes encoding rules for data needed in many applications.
Currently Europay International, MasterCard International, and Visa International (EMV) are cooperatively developing specifications to facilitate the use of smart cards for payments worldwide. These specifications build upon the ISO 7816 standards that have been developed for smart cards that use electrical contacts. Yet another standard, which has helped to ensure interoperability, is public-key cryptography standard PKCS #11. PKCS #11 provides functional specification for personal cryptographic tokens.
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