Hirsch Electronics Expands Velocity Management System To Include IT Security Features

Hirsch Electronics announced Thursday the company is extending the functionality of its flagship security management system, Velocity, to include IT-oriented identity and card management capabilities.

Specifically, Velocity will interface with certificate authorities and Active Directory to create smart cards that can be used for secure computer log-on and door access control. A preliminary version of the new converged security solution will be available for live demonstrations at Hirsch's ISC West Booth  No. 14018.

"We've talked with many organizations who want to use strong authentication for computer and network log-on, because password-only log-on is increasingly recognized as a disaster waiting to happen," said John Guerrero, Hirsch's vice president of business solutions.

Many cyber security experts agree companies need to implement stronger log-on authentication to prevent hackers or criminal insiders from infiltrating networks or accessing data on stolen computers.

"But making the leap to secure PC log-on has been a bit tough for end users," Guerrero said. "Even just researching potential solutions is extremely time consuming, let alone the evaluation, implementation and testing phases. So, what we've done is deliver the core card management functions in an easy-to-use interface that the market already knows and trusts, Velocity."

Velocity is Hirsch's security management system that integrates access control, intrusion detection, badge printing and video surveillance. Its new capabilities enable it to acquire digital certificates from a certificate authority, expose Active Directory user and group lists for selection, encode the smart card with the trusted certificate, bind (associate) the card to the Active Directory user-ID, push the binding information to Active Directory, and do real-time checks of the certificate's validity.

Thus, users can log-on to Windows using strong authentication -- two-factors (card and PIN) plus a real-time check of the card's certificate status (i.e., valid versus revoked). Various configuration options are available to meet specific customer needs.

"For regulatory and liability reasons, organizations are eager to encrypt files and email, to digitally sign documents, and to log-on with more than a password," said Mark Allen, Hirsch vice president. "But the whole PKI and card management system topic can be daunting. And, frankly, politics play a role, sometimes causing issues between physical security and the IT department. With Velocity's new capabilities, Hirsch addresses both those issues."

The Hirsch solution lets the physical security or human resources department issue a single smart card that can be used for both door and computer access. However, IT maintains its control. During card creation, the issuer must choose from the user and group lists that IT previously defined. IT need only ensure the user account exists in Active Directory. Alternatively, IT departments can choose to allow Velocity to push new users into Active Directory, such as in the case of a new employee. Additionally, IT assumes no card issuance or card management burden.

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