International Business Machines Corp. has come out with a smart card security system for notebook computers that incorporates technology from Gemplus.
The Smart Card Security Kit, part of IBM's SecureWay product line, includes a card that safeguards the user's applications and encrypts information sent over the Internet.
The smart card rests in a reading device that fits in the floppy drive of a notebook computer. When the card is removed, all applications are blocked until it is reinserted and the correct personal identification number entered.
Central to the encryption process is Gemsafe, the card-based security technology developed by the leading French chip card maker. Digital credentials are stored on a smart card and cannot be activated without a PIN. The card is disabled after three unsuccessful PIN-entry attempts.
"Gemsafe acts as a secured universal password for Web, e-mail, and other network transactions," said John Landwehr, director of product marketing for the Internet and information technology group at Gemplus Americas, Redwood City, Calif.
"The product will have more credibility and more market presence because Gemplus will also be representing it," said Jerome Svigals, a smart card consultant also in Redwood City.
IBM officials said the security kit was a relatively simple way to get smart cards into the U.S. mainstream market.
Because the United States "is behind in smart card technology, we thought we'd start with protection," said Joseph Preisser, worldwide brand marketing communication product manager at IBM in Research Triangle Park, N.C. "Rather than coming up with multiple functions that require changes in technology, we wanted to start out with something everyone can understand."
Mr. Preisser said the security kit addresses two main concerns of PC users: theft of information from hard drives and insecure electronic commerce transactions.
"This adds another level of security," Mr. Svigals said. "This does more than consolidate passwords-no one can access the computer."
The smart card industry has been touting security as a major advantage of the technology, and Mr. Svigals said, "People are starting to see the smart card as a personal security device."
IBM's kit includes secure system access, hard-disk encryption, a secure screen saver, and encrypted data exchange. It is priced at $199 and is being marketed to Fortune 500 companies.