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Smart cards overview

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Smart cards overview

Smart cards are a tamper-resistant and portable way to provide security solutions for tasks such as logging on to a Microsoft® Windows Server 2003 family domain, client authentication, code signing, and securing e-mail.

Support for cryptographic smart cards is a key feature of the public key infrastructure (PKI) that Microsoft has integrated into Microsoft® Windows® XP and the Windows Server 2003 family.

Smart cards provide:

  • Tamper-resistant storage for protecting private keys and other forms of personal information.

  • Isolation of security-critical computations involving authentication, digital signatures, and key exchange from other parts of the computer that do not have a "need to know." These operations are all performed on the smart card.

  • Portability of credentials and other private information between computers at work, home, or on the road.

For more information, see Understanding smart cards and Using Smart Cards.

For smart card administrative and user procedures, see Smart Card How To....

For the smart card deployment checklist, see Checklist: Deploying smart cards for logging on to Windows.

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