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Wireless Authenticator

Secure authentication of personnel requires two or more-factors typically known as something a person knows (password, pin code etc.) something a person has (access card, dongle, etc.) & something a person is (like a fingerprint). Two-factor authentication is considered secure as it requires two separate factors to authorize access to systems.  For the Department of Defense (DoD) secure access to systems is provided by a combination of a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and a Common Access Card (CAC) smartcard.  While this system is secure and easy to use in office environments, it is not operationally feasible to use a smartcard, such as a CAC, in tactical or combat environments.

As a supplement to the CAC, NextFlex has worked with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) to develop alternative authenticator form factors that are flexible, wireless and that can be worn by placing in a pocket or embedded in clothing to allow authentication to a platform via a wireless link.  The first version of this prototype contained a standard security chip which was attached to a printed Near Field Communications (NFC) antenna to allow authentication via NFC readers connected to a workstation.  The small form factor and flexible nature of the device allows it to be readily placed or embedded in clothing to provide discrete secure access to a system.  The second-iteration of this prototype added the capability of utilizing a Bluetooth link.  The Bluetooth link allows for authentication from a longer distance enabling a more functional worn device.  These devices required the development of printed antennas as well as a strong encapsulation process for the devices to ensure their reliability in the field. The 2nd prototype devices had a good range while also being resistant to water infiltration.

These new devices have allowed the team at CCDC to investigate and develop new, improved & innovative ways of authenticating soldiers in the field.  Helping to better ensure the security of DoD systems.

“Partnering with NextFlex has been an exciting and eye opening experience. The opportunity to iteratively develop, test & demonstrate prototypes at low cost & minimal impact to acquisition schedules allows us to rapidly advance and field incremental and innovative capabilities to the soldier,” said Ogedi Okwudishu, project lead for the Tactical Identity and Access Management program.

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