Smart card for maximum IT security and user-friendliness
In 2018 the Swedish Public Employment Service put just over half a million jobseekers together with new employers. With a workforce of 15,000, the Public Employment Service is one of Sweden’s largest authorities. The staff are distributed throughout no less than 320 offices, from Trelleborg to Karesuando. The large and extremely spread out organisation places high requirements on a functioning IT environment.
Employees everywhere in Sweden need fast and simple access to information, at the same time as the integrity of all jobseekers and employers must be maintained.
The staff demanded better IT security
In many respects, it was the staff’s requirements that initiated the journey towards better accessibility, greater flexibility and higher IT security that the Public Employment Service commenced some ten years ago.
Until then, the Public Employment Service had relied on traditional passwords to log in both to its central information system, AIS, and its overall IT environment. There was no security policy governing how often the password should be changed. It meant that the same password could be used year after year. Sometimes staff loaned passwords to each other. It created uncertainty about who had access to what. And users who had forgotten their password could simply collect a new one from an internal helpdesk, with no formal identification.
Troika of security suppliers
Once the need for better IT security was established, the Public Employment Service’s IT staff were quickly able to provide a picture of what was required – a robust security solution based on two factor authentication and smart card. After a wide-ranging feasibility study followed by tests with a selection of suppliers, the choice fell on a combination of services from three leading security suppliers – the security software Net iD from SecMaker, smart card from Gemalto and certificates issued by EJBCA (Enterprise Java Beans Certificate Authority) from PrimeKey.
All Public Employment Service employees changed from traditional password to smart card based security quickly and smoothly during a short transitional period. Supported by local card administrators in the organisation, each employee personally moved from password to smart card via an online interface. When the smart cards were activated, automatically correct certificates were simultaneously stored on each card based on the users’ needs and authorisations. Today all employees thus have direct access to the right applications and information simply through using their smart card in combination with the personally selected PIN codes.
Maximum security with Net iD and smart card
Håkan Persson, Head of the Swedish Public Employment Service’s IT staff gives his view of the change:
- When we started the project, we were afraid that the employees would react negatively and feel that the card log in was going to complicate their daily work. However, the response was the opposite. Today the vast majority appreciate the fact that we have a new, more reliable security solution, which ensures our data and applications from unauthorised viewing and thus protects personal integrity.
One reason for the positive reception is that the smart cards are not just used for secure and simple log in to the IT environment, but also function as ID and for physical entry to the premises. In turn, this basically enables every employee to work at any of the local offices in Sweden, which enhances flexibility for both the organisation and its staff.
IT security has been raised to the max since we introduced log in with Net iD and smart card. Naturally we are extremely pleased that we obtained user-friendliness into the bargain, Håkan Persson concludes.
IT security has been raised to the max since we started to log in with Net iD and smart card. Naturally we are extremely pleased that we obtained user-friendliness into the bargain
Head of IT staff
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