Security Keys v. Convenience

25.05.2021

DESFire EV3 readers

Current, secure card technologies differ from older, legacy types that read a card’s unique serial number. Today’s technologies protect card data by encrypting them with security keys. Such keys, coded to both cards and readers, also let them mutually authenticate each other. This protects a card from being read by any reader other than yours.

Most reader manufacturers today offer such secure technologies that protect against card hacking. You will find differences if you compare different suppliers’ products. Many offer product and service packages that encompass cards, readers, their programming and security key management. Some offer packages, however, that are proprietary, or closed. They force you to purchase readers and cards exclusively from that supplier in the future – in contrast with the open standard MIFARE provides. Only MIFARE DESFire, (considered one of the world’s most secure technologies) is standardized to keep products from different suppliers compatible with each other.

Even once you consider MIFARE DESFire, be aware of two, opposed package types on the market. Some manufacturers keep security keys strictly as their own property as a policy. If you choose such a vendor, you once again become locked to them. This result is identical to the closed, proprietary scenario previously described above. If you ever decide to change vendors, your customer-specific security keys might not transfer as easily as you expect.  Also bear in mind that customer-specific security keys are a central pillar of MIFARE DESFire technology.

By contrast, here at Idesco, we provide security key management services that are designed for maximal flexibility, complementing MIFARE DESFire’s open technology standard. System integrator and end-user remain free to decide who will administer their site’s security keys, although we can manage them as agreed by both and for as long as both choose. If you need more DESFire readers or cards, we can deliver them pre-programmed as specified directly to your end-customers’ sites. This frees you from worrying about learning DESFire technology, or programming readers and cards yourself – if you choose not to.

In addition to coding cards, we can custom print and number them, include documentation, while strictly and securely managing and storing your security keys according to modern information security standards. All this will be done confidentially when agreed upon. Most important, however, is that you be aware: with Idesco, you remain free to decide how to administer your security keys.

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