According to Anssi’s figures, the number of cyber attacks in France in 2021 was 1,082 and shows a 37% increase compared to the previous year.
Although security issues are at the heart of data protection issues, an often overlooked tool is the solution that combines ease of use and data security: a smart card, a card like your bank card that contains a chip linked to a unique, secure identity. Today, it is constantly being renewed to always incorporate more connectivity and security.
As the International Forum on Cybersecurity (FIC) approaches, the observer who wants to stay updated may wonder how the smart card has evolved over the past 30 years into today’s highly secure authentication solution – and what its future will be.
Being in constant development and acceleration
Since the advent of the smart card in the eighties, it has developed rapidly and gradually expanded to include various uses. The smart card, which was initially used in the banking sector, established itself in the telecommunications sector, with SIM cards in the 1995 years before being integrated, in 1999, for the first time by the government into national identity cards. In the 2000s, these developments accelerated, and in 2005 the first passport using smart card technologies was produced. 2010 marked the advent of the dual interface and contactless smart card, and in 2018 the biometric card was born. Application developments (banking, telecommunications, government, etc.) are carried out in parallel with technological developments (magnetic tapes, then transfer of information from the chip to the contact reader, then contactless thanks to RFID and NFC antennas and finally biometrics).
A smart card with multiple features
Since 2018, so-called biometric smart cards have been able to store the fingerprints of their owners in order to provide optimal security. The card thus becomes a key that makes it possible to authenticate the user in a simple and secure way.
In any computer system, for a user’s identification to be reliable, two out of three authentication factors related to it must be checked. These three factors can be: what he has (like a card, a phone), what he is (his face, fingerprints, behavior, voice…) and what he knows (PIN code, password).
A bio card has the advantage of combining two factors into one tool: the user owns the card and can prove their identity thanks to the fingerprint sensor on it. Simplifies card usage while securing transactions. Within the framework of the company, the user no longer needs to use a password or a phone, which is a tool that is limited to a small number of employees and does not guarantee perfect security. In fact, the data retrieved by the mobile application may in some cases end up being stored on servers, thus vulnerable to potential attacks. With a smart card, the cardholder’s data physically remains with him and is not sent to a remote server or cloud; The user controls what they want to do with their data and must authenticate it to see it.
Towards multi-application use
To date, the smart card has been developed to facilitate the transfer of data to dedicated readers and increase data security. New uses are being developed and it can become a multi-application card, capable of connecting to any device. This is already the case in the Nordic countries where the ID card also allows payment. In another record, China has developed a digital currency that can be stored in a digital wallet or on a card; A tool used as a secure tool for paying or transferring money. This offline digital currency will gradually establish itself in many countries.
We could go even further by imagining a smart card as a cryptocurrency storage tool where the data stored on the card can be transferred to any device. Or, in companies, as an access card, which will also allow you to authenticate yourself on your computer in order to open your session. In a world of constant demand for ease of use and protection against fraud and cybercrime, the smart card still has a bright future ahead, promising to establish itself as an essential object in everyday connected life.
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