Platform: Windows 95+, with 2.5 MB available hard diskspace, one available serial port, Web browser (tested with Microsoft InternetExplorer 5.0), and an Internet connection.
Smart Passky is a hardware-based security application. Itsprimary security function is to protect passwords, log-in names, and otherunique information that one would use to access Web pages. When you open thebox you will find a smart key reader that attaches to your serial port, twosmart keys, a user manual, and a single software diskette.
As a professional educator, I had to wonder how thisapplication would be of assistance. I started to look at all of my post-its,notes, and saved e-mails, and noticed that I had numerous account names andpasswords strewn around my computerworkspace. It was evident that there must be a better way. Smart Passkyappeared to be a viable solution. I reflected on the fact that more and moreeducational Web sites are requiring all users to register in order to use theirservices, even if the services are free. Some of the sites let you choose your username and password, whileothers provide you with a username and allow you to change the password at yourdiscretion. As my computer at school is potentially accessible to numerouspeople throughout the day, others could access many of my accounts without muchdifficulty and without my permission.
The installation went smoothly. I first attached the smartkey reader to the computer and then installed the software. The instructionswere well written and easy to follow. The software automatically starts atboot-up and resides in the system tray. The Smart Passky menu automatically“pops up” when the smart card is inserted into the smart card reader. AddingWeb sites, usernames, passwords, and other information to the card is simple:point, click, and fill in the blanks. In addition, the card can be made toautomatically go to a specific Web page upon insertion into the smart cardreader. As all of the confidential information is stored on the smart card, nocookies or other electronic data files are left on the computer. Additionally,each of the two included smart cards is unique, allowing two separateidentities.
Although Smart Passky installed well, worked well, andperformed as it was intended, several non-software issues alarmed me. The company’sWeb page, www.amazingtechnologies.com,offers no technical information, software updates, FAQ, product information, orany other support for Smart Passky. As I did not need technical support thiswas not a problem, but if I had difficulties, I would have to wonder what typeof support would be available.
Given this lack of online support, I would carefully comparethis product to other similar products prior to making a final decisionregarding the use of a hardware-based security solution.
Horace Mann Middle
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.