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October, 1999: Cool Smart Card Hacks

At our October Meeting, Peter Honeyman, director of the Center for Information Technology Integration (CITI) at the University of Michigan discussed his group's smart card-related research and development, including innovative computer security applications (like Kerberos), and new methods of interacting with smart cards (for example, as a mounted UNIX file system).

Peter discussed the difference in smart card acceptance between the U.S. and Europe, and had some interesting insights: In the U.S., smart cards have never really been accepted. Even within a large organization, like U.M., where all students have smart card-based student I.D. cards-- and can use smart cards as cash cards for cafeterias and vending machines-- acceptance is low. In Europe, however, smart cards have been in use for years. Peter's explanation is that smart cards have been a necessity in Europe due to high fraud rates. Without a well-integrated, state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure, credit card fraud rates were high when merchants had to refer to the books of lost and stolen cards when accepting a credit card for a transaction (remember these books back in the 60's and 70's?) In France, Peter reports that pay phones generally require smart cards because so many telephone hacks are possible there that it was simpler to require smart cards than to fix the fraud problem. All in all, Peter attributes the sophisticated telephone infrastructure in the U.S., where credit cards are verified by a quick, automated telephone call for the high high credit card acceptance-- and low smart card acceptance-- in the U.S. compared to Europe.

A range of Peter's talks are available on his web site at:

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February 15, 2009

February 2008: FRUUG Enters Quiescent Phase
After 27 years running, we're suspending operations.

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