Smart cards work in a couple of ways. One implementation provides a hardware encryption key to access data. Other implementations have FOBs or other means to randomly generate passwords that when typed in on a client machine will match the server within a period of time. Both versions require a card with the basic key to be present in or attached to the client machine before access will be allowed. This layer generally is an augmenter to other security. The advantage of biometrics is that whatever pattern used is personal to an individual and is not something that can be impersonated or stolen (short of some criminal act that would result in arrest). If you are managing a network with a high level of security the best security is multiple levels of security.
Players in this industry more information can be found at www.biometrics.org. If you are really interested in seeing some of these at work, they have a tradeshow in September.
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