Making the case for smart cards for the average user

Joey Castillo jose.castillo at
Fri Mar 13 21:13:38 CET 2015

Hi there,

I'm working on a Kickstarter right now that aims to popularize smart
cards as an easier way for the average user to adopt GnuPG.

Putting aside any security benefits, smart cards seem simpler to use
for the average person. Unlocking a card with a PIN is a metaphor that
people already know and use with bank cards. Choosing and memorizing a
strong passphrase, by comparison, is something the average user is
likely to have trouble with.

Moreover, we're a multi-screen environment now; people expect to have
access to their stuff across devices. With a smart card they can keep
their secret keys in one place, as opposed to creating multiple points
of potential compromise. Plus by integrating NFC technology, we open
up the potential for use on smartphones and tablets, which is where
most people's computing is moving anyway.

Of course smart cards aren't some kind of magic bullet, but if the
goal is to drive wider adoption of GnuPG and OpenPGP based
cryptography, I can't shake the feeling that smart cards are a huge
part of the answer. Thoughts?


Joey Castillo

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