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BlackBerry unveils next generation smart card reader

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Research In Motion (RIM) have announced a new model of the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader — a lightweight and even wearable card reader that enables proximity controlled access to a user’s BlackBerry smartphone and linked computer. It uses Bluetooth and advanced encryption to enable secure pairing and communications. The Reader is on show this week at the LandWarNet 2009 Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, and will be released onto the market in September.

Research In Motion have announced a new model of the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader — a lightweight, wearable, card reader that enables proximity controlled access to a user’s BlackBerry smartphone and computer.

The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader uses Bluetooth 2.0 technology with advanced encryption to enable secure pairing and communications between the reader, the BlackBerry smartphone, the computer and PKI applications.

The new BlackBerry Smart Card Reader features sleeker design than nits predecessor, measuring only 3.98‚ x 2.4‚ x 0.57‚ and weighing only 2.26 oz, making it comfortable to wear. It also features a larger display and backlighting for easier viewing, as well as power management features that can extend battery life between charges (900mAh integrated lithium ion battery).

It also offers additional content protection in that IT administrators can configure settings to allow handset passwords to work only if the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader is within range. These settings add another layer of protection on top of the handset password and will also be enforcable for a secondary password required to unlock encrypted data on the handset.

The previous BlackBerry Smart Card Reader model supported a randomly generated 8-digit numeric Bluetooth pairing PIN and this new model can now support more complex Bluetooth pairing PINs with both characters (symbols, letters, capital letters) and numbers.

The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader supports all ISO 7816 compliant smart cards and provides out of the box support for Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards, Common Access Cards (CAC) and Safenet 330 cards.

Organisations also now have the ability to deploy the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader as a security accessory for BlackBerry smartphones, even if the organisation does not use smart cards. Once paired with the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader via Bluetooth, the BlackBerry smartphone will automatically lock if it is out of range of the reader.

‚The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader provides security-conscious organisations with another powerful tool for controlling access to computers and BlackBerry smartphones,‚ said Scott Totzke, Vice President, BlackBerry Security Group at RIM. “This new model of the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader further builds upon the security, flexibility and mobility of the trusted BlackBerry Enterprise Solution.‚

According to RIM, The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader is built with both IT and mobile users in mind, and key benefits include:

Preventing Unauthorized Access – instead of inserting the smart card into a stationary reader or bulky peripheral attachment, which can easily be left behind, users insert a smart card into this sleek lightweight reader and wear it on a lanyard. If the user is no longer in proximity, their BlackBerry smartphone or computer will automatically lock.

Convenience and Ease of Use – provides users with the convenience of a single reader to control access to both their BlackBerry smartphone and computer. The Smart Card Reader features long battery life and Bluetooth technology, and allows users to comfortably wear the reader on a lanyard.

Increasing Security Compliance – increasing the convenience and comfort of using smart cards helps to ensure that users comply with organisational security directives. Using IT policy controls, BlackBerry smartphones and computers can be configured to lock if the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader goes out of range, rendering the smartphone or computer unusable and information inaccessible until proximity is restored and user authentication requirements have been met.

Providing Advanced Security Features – the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader, together with the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution, provides advanced security features to meet IT requirements in corporate environments and public sectors.

Managing Key Lifetimes Wirelessly – IT administrators gain additional control over the wireless environment with the ability to wirelessly manage security key lifetimes on the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader through BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

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