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Smartcards have become an important component in the security strategy of organizations. Rather than relying on logon name and password, an organization that implements smartcards is leveraging two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication that uses a combination of a logon/password sequence as well as the insertion of a physical smartcard device drastically improves network security in a Windows networking environment.

An important factor in setting up a secured smartcard environment is to start with a secured Certificate Authority setup. By minimizing access to the CA server, an organization can minimize the chance of unauthorized certificate creation and other key component factors in maintaining a secure authentication environment.

Smartcard administration such as issuing smartcards, managing smartcards, and applying the appropriate level of security for users also becomes a task for network administrators to manage. Fortunately with Group Policies built in to Windows Server 2003, the task of an administrator can be automated by specifying key security requirements for smartcard access.

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