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            Membership Smart card Authentication




Instead of using the userid/password style of authentication to a community’s website; we want to convert that such that users are being authenticated using a token which they carry with them. This token will contain their private key (in a PKI scenario) & their personalized website profile (as oppose to cookies). Windows 2000 has support for smart cards and we have not done any research yet of authenticating smart cards against the Site Server LDAP directory. Read Microsoft’s position:

                The need for security and enhanced privacy is increasing as electronic forms of identification replace face-to-face and paper-based ones. The emergence of the global Internet and the expansion of the corporate network to include access by customers and suppliers from outside the firewall have accelerated the demand for solutions based on public key technology. A few examples of the kinds of services that public key technology enables are secure channel communications over a public network, digital signatures to ensure image integrity and confidentiality, and authentication of a client to a server (and vice-versa).

Smart cards are a key component of the public key infrastructure that Microsoft is integrating into the Windows® 2000 operating system because smart cards enhance software-only solutions, such as client authentication, logon, and secure e-mail. Smart cards are essentially a point of convergence for public key certificates and associated keys because they:

§                       Provide tamper-resistant storage for protecting private keys and other forms of personal information.

§                       Isolate security-critical computations, involving authentication, digital signatures, and key exchange from other parts of the system that do not have a need to know.

§                       Enable portability of credentials and other private information between computers at work, at home, or on the road.

The smart card will become an integral part of the Windows platform because smart cards provide new and desirable features as revolutionary to the computer industry as the introduction of the mouse or compact disc.

. Gavin Bong