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Smart card offers safer online shopping

USB device designed for banking & e-commerce

Smart card vendor Gemalto NV plans to introduce new technology designed to give online shoppers an easy way to log on to their accounts using a smart card device that plugs into any PC.

Gemalto, based in Amsterdam, is already a major provider of smart cards to government and the enterprise, but the company hopes that its new system, called the Network Identity Manager, will be easy enough to use that it will appeal to consumers.

The USB devices, which will be on show at next week's RSA Conference in San Francisco, will not require any specialised software and will work with standard browsers and use the same Transport Layer Security (TLS) mechanisms already used by websites. Network Identity Manager will also use a "token management system" that will sort out which credentials need to be supplied to different websites, and will support Verisign's VIP Network Identity federation framework, according to Gemalto's website.

Because the user has to have the smart card device plugged into the PC before logging onto an online bank or e-commerce site, the device will thwart many common identity theft tactics including phishing or keylogging, according to Amol Deshmukh, a marketing manager with Gemalto. "It can create a much stronger link with whatever back-end you're trying to connect with," he said.

Sandisk also plans to promote USB products that can be used to simplify key management at next week's show, but the Sandisk products will have more of an enterprise focus.

"We're going to be introducing a product that can centrally manage and secure Sandisk USB flash drives and enable secure remote access to the enterprise," LaPedis said.

Sandisk already sells a USB smart card product called the mToken, but unlike Gemalto's Network Identity Manager, the Sandisk device uses flash memory to store applications on the USB device.

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