Smart Card Talk : February 2011 : Member Profile

This month Smart Card Talk spoke with Lars Suneborn, HIRSCH Electronics. During his 30+ year career in the security industry, Mr. Suneborn has served in a variety of roles. Currently he is guiding HIRSCH government customers with implementation of FIPS 201 compliant products and related system enhancements.

Recognized as a physical access control system (PACS) subject matter leader, he is a frequent speaker and an active member and chair of the Smart Card Alliance Physical Access Council. Mr. Suneborn is actively involved in industry groups developing open standards for smart card and related system components. He is actively promoting smart card, biometric and PKI cryptographic technologies as vital components in overall system designs for high-risk, high-security facilities nationally and internationally. He is guiding U.S. agencies in their efforts to achieve HSPD-12 and FIPS 201 PIV compliance.

His clients include U.S., British and Canadian government agencies. His experience includes system design, deployment and long-term sustainability programs for government facilities worldwide. Mr. Suneborn has developed and conducted agency-specific week-long training courses for a variety of U.S., Canadian and British security agencies.

1. What are HIRSCH Electronics’ main business profile and offerings?

HIRSCH, a business unit of Identive Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:INVE) (Frankfurt:INV), manufactures integrated security and identity systems for worldwide markets. HIRSCH’s award-winning solutions bring together access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection, digital certificates, smart cards and biometrics in order to successfully secure facilities, digital assets and electronic transactions. For its government and commercial customers, HIRSCH brings significant expertise in the requirements of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 201, the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card, Common Access Card (CAC), Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), Identity, Credential and Access Management (ICAM), and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

Security agencies from several nations have selected HIRSCH as their system supplier for mission critical facilities of national security consequence.

Today, agencies are increasingly deploying nationwide PKI-enabled enterprise PACS that are integrated with agency identity and credential management systems. To assist and guide our Federal agency clients, the HIRSCH Government Program Group combines a deep understanding of Federal government operational as well as technical requirements for physical access control systems. This approach has proven very successful and establishes a high level of trust between HIRSCH and our agency partners. HIRSCH has become recognized as a go-to company for high-security and HSPD-12 PACS solutions.

Identive Group, Inc. is a leading provider of products, services and solutions for the security, identification and RFID industries.

2. What role does smart card technology play in supporting HIRSCH’s business?

Security management functions which merge physical and logical access and require rapid authentication are evolving. To satisfy this new paradigm, next generation security management systems must be able to strengthen the binding between the pillars of identity, credential validation and the card user. Currently, smart cards are the only portable technology platform that is able to combine the related technologies in a practical manner. Today these cards are readily available and ready for implementation.

This approach is gaining acceptance and expanding to state, local and foreign governments as well as commercial markets; it is a critical component for HIRSCH business growth.

3. What trends do you see developing in the market that HIRSCH hopes to capitalize on?

The U.S. HSPD-12 effort is succeeding and paving the way for other market sectors to follow. ICAM and PIV-I are clear indications that smart card-based technologies are increasingly viewed as practical, vital system components and acceptance is now expanding to state and local governments, as well as governments of other nations. Some Fortune 500 corporations are closely observing the U.S. government’s HSPD-12 implementation and are beginning to plan their own version of a smart card credentialing program. Since each entity has its own unique IT environment, it is necessary to finalize open standards for secure data transport and exchange among system back-end components. HIRSCH is convinced that this will become a common reality in the near future and is enhancing the system’s universal interface to accept new standards as they evolve.

4. What obstacles to growth do you see that must be overcome to capitalize on these opportunities?

Obstacles from just a couple of years ago are in many cases removed or greatly reduced. Some of the reliability issues noticed on the contactless interface of earlier dual interface cards seem to have been solved as well. Standards, component and system conformance testing programs are developed; several million PKI-enabled identity credentials have been issued and are in use; the authentication and validation process is robust and increasingly quick; educational programs are emerging.

However there is still a tremendous need for education at all levels. Education programs covering topics ranging from concepts, benefits and usage of the technology to creation, issuance and update of cards are, in large part, absent from the marketplace. There are still exceptional opportunities for a credible non-vendor organization such as the Smart Card Alliance and other organizations to expand their education programs and provide this desperately needed education.

5. What do you see are the key factors driving smart card technology in the market?

There are several drivers. HSPD-12 proved the concept of using open standards in large-scale deployment of interoperable identity credentials that are highly resistant to forgery and rapidly authenticated. Technology developed for HSPD-12 is now readily available and may be leveraged by non-government organizations.

6. How do you see your involvement in the Alliance and the Physical Access Council helping HIRSCH?

Smart Card Alliance meetings are free from political and marketing bias. These opportunities to network with industry and government leaders who are subject matter experts in all related disciplines make this organization an invaluable resource for learning, as well as on occasion teaching.

HIRSCH benefits from this exposure of reliable, accurate information in determining directions and goals for HIRSCH product development, as well as in providing guidance to our partner agencies in their efforts to update their PACS infrastructure to comply with FIPS 201 and other requirements.

The various white paper projects are valuable tools that provide relevant information to both government and commercial market sectors.

7. As the chair of the Smart Card Alliance Physical Access Council, what do you see are the key activities for the Council in the coming year?

Our members assist our non-member audiences with the implementation of smart card and PACS programs. Many of the lessons learned from the Federal government may, through education and white papers, be applied to assist state, local and commercial sectors implement their identity credentialing programs.

In addition, new regulations such as ICAM, updates of current standards, and emerging trends offer a wide variety of project topics that are beneficial to our members and our non-member audiences. The Smart Card Alliance Physical Access Council is in a unique position to use information generated and submitted by our members to identify education voids and develop material to fill these gaps. So far the Alliance has been very successful at identifying these topics and creating material that benefit both our members and audiences and help them stay abreast of the fast, dynamic pace of industry change.

8. Do you see additional smart card applications emerging?

Currently, the PAC is engaged in a cooperative education project with that National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) to assist with PIV-I programs in several states. In addition, ICAM combines traditional PACS sub-systems such as physical access, intrusion detection, video and guard tour to a smart card-based security management system.

Smart card use is expanding from the current use for logical and physical access to cover protection of digital video data and validation and authorization of users before disarming alarm sensors in protected areas.

HIRSCH Electronics point of contact

Lars R. Suneborn
Director, Government Program
HIRSCH Electronics
1900 Carnegie Ave
Santa Ana, CA. 92705
Ph: 1 (949) 250-8888