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Stanford issuing new smart cards to students

Stanford University is replacing all student and faculty ID cards issued before January 2017 as part of a campus wide upgrade that will see new, smart card credentials issued to the campus community.

According to Stanford’s Campus Card Services website, the new smart cards have been made mandatory as the university’s ongoing security upgrades have now replaced and upgraded all wired card readers on campus. With the new card readers in place the old Stanford ID cards are officially no longer compatible.

Stanford’s previous cards sent information in the clear when communicating with a reader, leaving them susceptible to card sniffing. But the move to smart cards eliminates this threat, as Stanford ID cards will now use a secure, encrypted channel that is hashed and signed when communicating with a reader.

Increased security on the new smart cards will come at a minor cost in the form of a shorter read range. The old Stanford ID cards had a read range of roughly 15 inches and could be read through limited obstruction like a wallet or purse. The chips in the newly issued smart cards are more secure and carry a read range of only about 3-4 inches, and will not work through a waller or purse.

Stanford began issuing the new smart cards in January 2017. These credentials include an “-E” as part of the number on the back side of the card. Any students, faculty or staff carrying a card that does not include the “-E” will need to replace their ID in one of the scheduled card swap windows.

Stanford libraries and campus rec centers will continue to recognize old cards issued to spouses and dependents. There will be no charge for the initial swapped card, but any subsequent lost or damaged cards will carry a $25 replacement fee.

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