Smart Cards

News.com has an interview with ActivCard’s CEO Steven Humphreys. ActivCard is an identity-management software maker. Some excerpts:

You have cards to get into your building; you have passwords; you have tokens. Now some people have biometrics. It’s all about managing identities.

On one card I have all of my passwords. With a card in a laptop with valid serial numbers, whenever I go to one of my sites whose password I’ve saved, it pulls the user ID and password off, and I don’t even need to deal with it. So password consolidation is there. The security is there. The physical access as well as the logical access and local encryption and security are there. And when I go remotely, the one-time use passwords are there. People are already doing all these things.

Companies are finding that they are already managing identity–but in a fragmented way. When they integrate it, then they actually get cost reductions. That is why this is taking off in the enterprise space.

The big thing was to get the external readers to drop in price. A smart card reader used to cost about $100 per user; it now costs $10. And the cost of goods is under $5. That’s made a big difference.

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Sony’s Portable File Server

Joi Ito writes about a device which I’d like to have: “I just got my Sony FSV-PGX1 Portable File Server. It’s an interesting device. It a little linux box that can run on batteries. It has nfs, samba, telnet, http and ftp. It has a 20G HD. There is a web interface or you can set it up with the little lcd display and arrow buttons on the box. If you get the cradle, there is an ethernet connector. The box has 802.11b built in. It’s basically a file server. It can be set up as a DHCP access point, DHCP client or fixed IP address on both the ethernet and/or the wireless ports.” See the picture of the device.

Microsoft and Google’s Coming Search Battle

The next warfront is Search. As Google has all but conquered the new territory, Microsoft is readying an assault not unlike the one it did against Netscape. News.com has more:

Microsoft may use some familiar tactics in the search market, most notably by integrating and distributing the technology throughout its many products and services. The company could, for example, embed connections to related Microsoft search and mapping functions directly into Word documents or Web sites built with Windows development tools.

The goal is vintage Microsoft: Keep customers within the Windows universe; build demand through popular functions such as search; and bypass the need for services from competitors. This strategy, in theory, will give consumers more incentive to buy Windows software and use Microsoft services, while taking away revenue that Google receives for search results.

If Microsoft holds true to form, signs of its custom search engine will soon proliferate. As the company proved with browsers, media players and so many other products, it has myriad distribution points at its disposal and can exploit them at will to increase usage and market share. Already, sources close to the company say that it plans to incorporate a search toolbar into the Internet Explorer browser that will use MSN’s new engine.

It is not going to an easy battle for Microsoft. Google is a smart competitor, and seemingly has a very strong position in the search business. Interesting to see how this shapes up.

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