Smart Card Authentication | Raise Your Security Levels to a Higher Standard

What Is Smart Card Authentication?

A smart card, as the name suggests, is a secure microchip that enables user authentication by generating, storing, and operating cryptographic keys. Smart card authentication works with the help of smart cards, smart card devices, and authentication software. Smart cards are a strong form of authentication with cryptographic keys which is protected logically and physically, making it hard to compromise.

Smart card authentication is a two-step login process that uses a smart card. The smart card stores a user’s public key credentials and a personal identification number (PIN), which acts as the secret key to authenticate the user to the smart card. A smart card enhances security—you can’t gather user details (such as a PIN) by tampering with these cards.

Why Is Smart Card Authentication Important?

smart card authenticationBefore providing access to computer networks, systems, and applications, organizations must validate the authenticity of a user. As more and more organizations maintain their data in a secure datacenter and employees access this data remotely, the user authentication mechanism must be tamper-proof.

Smart cards are authenticated through a smart card reader. Whenever a user swipes their card in a smart card reader and enters the PIN, multiple factors of authentication are applied. Smart card authentication provides two-factor authentication by verifying what the user has swiped (the smart card) and the unique identifier for the user (PIN). The threat of data breach from endpoints in a remotely available datacenter is reduced.

Advantages of Smart Card Authentication

Smart card authentication is a great option for organizations that value security because it offers numerous benefits.


Smart cards provide enhanced security as compared to magnetic stripe cards. They may contain microprocessors that can process data directly without remote connections. Additionally, information stored in a smart card cannot be easily deleted, modified, or retrieved. Even if a smart card falls into malicious hands, it is highly unlikely that a person can create a duplicate copy and breach security.


Smart card details can be updated remotely without issuing a new card. Such cards cannot be duplicated, as they are encrypted and have a unique ID. By using a smart card, a user can access multiple services—you don’t have to carry multiple separate cards.


Smart cards are manufactured from plastic—besides the low-cost, embedded microprocessor. This makes them less expensive than digital tokens and other authentication platforms. Besides, they easily conform to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) packaging standards.

Processing power

Smart cards leverage a small CPU that can perform other functions as well, besides just storing data. For example, the CPU can count the number of times that a user enters PIN wrongly and automatically lockout that user for a specified period.

Disadvantages of Smart Card Authentication

Despite the many features built into smart cards, they have some limitations.

Secure Your Data with Parallels RAS

With the increased usage of virtual applications, sensitive data is removed from endpoint devices and stored in a secure, centralized location to avert any security threats. As the endpoints are the gateways to the centrally stored data, extreme care should be taken so that users gaining access to such endpoint devices go through a strict authentication process.

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) has a robust solution that enables smart card authentication from Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. This enhanced security layer dramatically reduces any possible data breach via the endpoints. By using Parallels RAS, system administrators can ensure that the right resources are shared with the right user or security group.

Other security features that Parallels RAS offers include:

Download your free 30-day trial and experience how Parallels RAS can enhance security in your organization.