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Changes Coming to Stanford ID Cards and Card Readers

Anyone providing or using a service that employs ID card readers should be aware of this upcoming change
Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Stanford ID cards are unsmart and smart. Soon, new cards will only be smart.

Among the things the Covid pandemic slowed is the Stanford ID Card Office’s efforts to better secure campus card readers and ID cards. But those efforts are in full swing again.

To improve the security of transactions between the Stanford ID card and campus card readers, starting Sept. 1, 2022:

  • The Stanford ID Card Office will only issue the fully-secure, smart-chip-only ID cards
  • Card readers that communicate with Stanford ID cards to complete transactions, must be able to read the smart chip already in most Stanford ID cards
    • If you are using ID card readers to communicate with Stanford ID cards — for ANY PROGRAM OR FUNCTION — and those card readers DID NOT COME FROM University IT’s Campus Card Services, you should contact UIT as soon as possible

A little background

Currently, many Stanford ID cards have a

  • magnetic stripe, commonly known as a magstripe (older, unsecure technology; the Stanford ID Card office will stop issuing cards with magstripes in Sept. 2022)
  • an “unsmart chip,” sometimes referred to as a “prox chip” (older, unsecure technology; the Stanford ID Card office will stop issuing cards with prox chips in Sept. 2022)
  • a “smart chip” (newer, fully-secure technology)

Because they have all three technologies, cards can currently communicate with whichever technologies are compatible with an individual card reader. However, the older technologies — magstripe and unsmart chip — introduce security concerns when the cards communicate with card readers.

I’m responsible for card readers that communicate with Stanford ID Cards. Do I need to replace those readers?

When talking about card readers that communicate with Stanford ID cards, it is always best to start with the Card Reader Golden Rule: “To have your application or hardware communicate with Stanford University ID cards, you must have compatible card readers issued by the Campus Card Office.” The Campus Card Office cannot guarantee compatibility with any other card readers. (See Add an ID Card Device Reader for more details.”

To eliminate security concerns related to the older technologies — magstripe and unsmart chips — you should immediately upgrade any card readers that are not yet smart-chip compatible. Since almost all existing Stanford ID cards already have smart chips, you can continue to communicate easily — and more securely — with the new card readers.

Further, Campus Card Services will soon distribute cards with only a smart chip; new cards will no longer have a magstripe or unsmart chip. You must update your readers by Sept. 1, 2022, or your reader will not be able to communicate with the smart-chip-only ID cards.

If you purchased a card reader from Campus Card Services that does not communicate with smart chips, chances are, Campus Card Services has already contacted you about changing out your equipment. If you are unsure if your card readers are compatible with smart chips — whether originally purchased from Campus Card Service or not — submit a Help request and the Campus Card Office staff will work with you to determine if you’ll need to replace the readers or if there are other possible alternatives for your location.

Will individuals need a new ID card?

Probably not. The Card Office has been providing ID cards with the smart chip for the past several years, and swapped out cards without the smart chip at that time, so most people already have a card that will continue to work into the foreseeable future.

If you don’t yet have a card with a smart chip, you will need to swap your existing card out for a new one. If you bring the old card with you there is no charge for the replacement card. It’s easy to determine if your card has a smart chip. On the back of your ID card, at the bottom, is a number.

  • If there is an “–E” in the number, (e.g., 6*123456-E), then you do not need a new card.
  • If there is no “–E” in the number, (e.g., 123456, or 6*123456), then you do need a new card.

Visit the ID Card Swap webpage for more information. If you need a new card, get it as soon as possible so your card will continue to work with all card readers.

For additional assistance

Visit Add an ID Card Device Reader for requirements for Stanford ID card readers.

For more information about Stanford card services and applications, visit the Campus Card Services website. For questions, submit a Help request.

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