'Smart cards' in demand as concerns about security rise

Thursday, 27 February 2003, 1:39 PM EST

With security tighter than ever, "smart card" IDs are becoming a first line of defense against attackers seeking to penetrate computer networks and office buildings.

The government has launched 64 smart-card programs in various agencies. The largest program will give cards to an estimated 15 million transportation workers, many of whom do not work for the government. The contract, expected to be offered by the Transportation Security Administration later this year, is a potential bonanza for smart-card manufacturers competing to supply the cards over the next few years. The TSA expects the cards to improve its ability to document and manage workers who have access to secure areas of the nation's airports, ports, rails, intercity buses and trucks.

"Security is one area that is likely to grow pretty rapidly," said Donald Davis, editor of Card Technology magazine, a monthly trade publication. "You can issue a single employee ID card to protect buildings and networks."

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