In a significant advance for consumer privacy and security worldwide, financial institutions, governments, businesses and other distributors of contactless “smart cards” now have access to lightweight card sleeves and mailing envelopes that completely shield all personal and financial information on the card’s memory chip from theft or unauthorized transmission.
National Envelope Corporation, the world’s largest envelope manufacturer, announced today that it has developed and is now marketing Smart Card Guard™, a unique and cost-effective new line of products that shield a smart card and its electronic information when mailed or carried in an individual’s purse, wallet or pocket. The company is initially targeting sales to financial services companies and government agencies, and the market is global.
Smart Card Guard™ functions by enclosing the card in a thin protective metallic barrier that is incorporated into a specially produced, easy-to-print substrate. The product prevents personal data in the smart card’s embedded integrated circuit from being transmitted via radio frequency (RF) waves to any smart card reading device.
“Unauthorized access of personal and financial information is a reality today — and the threat is growing,” said John Grymes, Chief Operating Officer of Uniondale, NY-based National Envelope.
“For issuers of smart cards, our secure mailers and card sleeves are a cost-effective, practical way to protect their organizations and assure customers that personal privacy is a top priority,” Grymes said. “For individuals with smart cards, it’s like having your sensitive personal data in a portable lead vault.”
Top U.S. security laboratory finds Smart Card Guard™ is an effective shield
National Envelope began development of the product in late 2006 following new information about security concerns with smart cards. Smart Card Guard™ has undergone extensive testing by San Luis Obispo, CA-based InfoGard Laboratories, Inc., a respected security laboratory accredited or recognized by companies and organizations including Visa International, MasterCard Worldwide (NYSE: MA), the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Postal Service, Canada Post, Royal Mail of the United Kingdom and Deutsche Post.
Rigorous InfoGard testing of all Smart Card Guard™ samples in early 2007 documented that the National Envelope products prevented communications between the enclosed smart card and smart card readers from all leading manufacturers — “even when placed directly onto the reader,” according to the InfoGard test report. Contactless smart cards and readers use a 13.56 megahertz plus/minus 7 kilohertz frequency transmission standard, the standard used in the InfoGard tests.
Fast-growing dissemination of smart cards
There are more than 550 million banking and payment smart cards alone in circulation worldwide, with about 27 million of them now in the U.S., according to a May 2007 report from the Rockville, MD-based research firm, Packaged Facts, which serves Fortune 500 companies. Financial institutions, drawing on success in Europe and Asia, are seeking to expand the rollout of smart cards in the U.S. to more than 100 million by 2011.
In the U.S., contactless credit cards, debit cards or small keychain devices are being issued by financial institutions including American Express (NYSE:AXP), Chase (NYSE:JPM), BankofAmerica (NYSE:BAC), Citibank (NYSE:C), HSBC Bank (NYSE:HBC), KeyBank (NYSE:KEY), Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC), and Citizens Bank (NASDAQ:CRBC).
In addition, the U.S. Department of State is expected to issue 17 million “e-passports” containing contactless smart card technology this year alone, while 26 other countries are currently using the technology in their passports. Other smart cards include federal ID cards, refillable gift cards, payment cards, health insurance cards, driver’s licenses and other state or organization ID cards. More than 3.3 billion smart cards were shipped worldwide in 2006.
Why National Envelope created Smart Card Guard™
Many smart cards use some form of encryption technology. But in a 2006 study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, a test of 20 smart cards showed encryption levels were not nearly strict enough to prevent easy interception of personal information.
The researchers found that a person using a reading device with off-the-shelf components and costing as little as $50 could walk around in a crowded place and steal private information from passersby just by passing the device near a handbag or wallet.
In December 2006, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) issued a statement advising consumers about potential theft of personal information on smart cards. He said information stored on smart cards can pass through clothing and wallets, and that proliferation of smart cards “means that identity thieves could benefit from having more opportunities to steal the data.” He also noted a thief with a card reading device could easily steal personal information out of mailboxes.
National Envelope launched development of the Smart Card Guard™ by incorporating a technology called a Faraday Cage, a metallic barrier that blocks electronic transmissions, within a lightweight paper created specifically for National Envelope. The Smart Card Guard™ brand name is trademarked and its technology has been registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. National Envelope has initiated sales campaigns in North America, Europe and Asia.
About National Envelope Corporation
Uniondale, NY-based National Envelope Corporation is the largest manufacturer of envelopes in the world, with 21 manufacturing facilities and 5,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada. It is one of the largest women-owned businesses in the United States and one of the largest privately held companies in New York State.
National Envelope is an environmental leader in the paper and envelope converting industries. It supplements its energy needs with wind-power energy and has product certifications from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Rainforest Alliance, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Chlorine Free Products Association and Green-e. The company also uses soy inks in its printing, manufactures biodegradable and compostable window envelopes, and has a full line of recycled and post-consumer waste content products.
Founded in 1952 by Holocaust survivor William Ungar, National Envelope grew through a combination of intense customer focus and the acquisition of envelope manufacturing companies across the U.S. National Envelope manufactures approximately 50 billion envelopes a year, which are sold through printing paper distributors and to select consumer/direct accounts.
National Envelope has facilities in Kent, Washington; City of Industry, CA, Chino, CA; Aurora, CO; Grand Prairie, TX, Houston, TX, Ennis, TX (under construction), Corsicana, TX; Lenexa, KS; Elk Grove Village, IL; Appleton, WI; Nashville, TN; Austell, GA; Smyrna, GA; Shelbyville, KY; Scottdale, PA; Exton, PA; Union, NJ; Hamburg, NY; Long Island City, NY; Worcester, MA; Westfield, MA and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Corporate offices are located in Uniondale, New York with Support Services located in Frisco, Texas.
For more information on Smart Card Guard™, please contact National Envelope at 1-800-864-5771. For general information about National Envelope, please visit its website at www.nationalenvelope.com or call the toll-free number above.