Review: ActivCard Gold Desktop

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ActivCard knows how to provide products for review – they sent us software kits for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris, complete with manuals and supporting literature.

This was complemented by three smartcard readers, a PCMCIA reader, USB tokens and smartcards.

ActivCard knows how to provide products for review – they sent us software kits for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris, complete with manuals and supporting literature.

This was complemented by three smartcard readers, a PCMCIA reader, USB tokens and smartcards.

This indicates an attention to detail both welcome and reassuring in a potential supplier.

Attention to detail is apparent in the breadth and flexibility inherent in even the client software component of ActivCard Gold. It is also reflected in the supplied manuals – which are comprehensive, logical, and clearly presented.

Think of ActivCard Gold Secure Desktop as either a standalone workstation access product or as the client side of a comprehensive enterprise wide solution. Think of it perhaps as a transitional component which starts off securing a workstation before being integrated into a larger network, perhaps on a remote-access basis. This may particularly suit those moving towards home-working options.

ActivCard can potentially support smartcards,tokens, biometrics, dynamic passwords, certificates, email encryption, PKI services, web access and more. It is not so much a plug-and-play product as a secure access philosophy to dovetail into a planned organizational strategy.

So it follows that such a strategy must be carefully considered before purchase and the components of ActivCard deployed accordingly.

This is a mature product for serious systems/security administrators.

In testing, everything worked just as expected, with an intuitive installation routine, including painless set up of the smartcard readers.

It was tested on a Win 2000 SP3 workstation, where everything worked flawlessly through the ActivCard Utilities module. PKI environments are supported, as is a vast range of connectivity options.

The ActivCard approach stresses the use of standards within a layered architecture to provide maximum ongoing flexibility. If you are seeking to create an enterprise level secure computing environment, you cannot ignore the ActivCard offering. Systems security architects and administrators should investigate the possibilities accordingly.

For:

Flexibility of approach.


Against:

Implementation needs thinking through.


Verdict:

A very good all round product

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