Alternate Logon Token

As of November 1, 2014, all Secondary account holders at NIH are required to authenticate with their Alternate Logon Token (ALT) card.

 

What is an ALT card

An Alternate Logon Token (ALT) is a smart card used by NIH system administrators (Secondary account holders) for privileged access to NIH computers and information systems; it does not open gates or doors.  An ALT card contains one digital certificate, the authentication certificate, which is linked to the card holder’s Secondary account. See the illustration below for a comparison of features of the ALT card and PIV card.

 

A side by side comparison of a PIV and ALT card showing that the PIV digital certificate asserts a user's regular AD account, while the ALT digital certificate asserts the user's secondary AA account. 

  PIV ALT
Name and photograph Yes No
Opens gates and doors Yes No
Certificates used for

Authentication
Encryption
Digital Signatures

Authentication

AD account authentication

Standard
User

Privileged
User


Note:
  Authentication certificates usually have an -A after your name. The authentication certificate on an ALT card has a number after the –A, e.g., -A2. The authentication certificate on a PIV Card ends in just –A with no number.

 

How to get an ALT card

In order to receive an ALT card, individuals must have an active HHS ID Badge (PIV or RLA) and be approved for a NIH Secondary account. The process to request a Secondary account differs slightly by IC, so please contact your Information Systems Security Officer (ISSO) for assistance.

Once you have completed your IC’s requirements to obtain a Secondary account, you will receive an email notification that your ALT has been approved.

Only after you are notified that you have been approved for an ALT card, you should:

  1. Visit your IC's ALT Distributor to obtain a blank ALT card.
     
  2. Download the authentication certificate for your Secondary account on to your ALT.

 

IC ALT Distributors

Each IC has one or more ALT Distributors; to find your IC’s ALT Distributor(s), please click on your IC in the table below:

CC CIT CSR FIC NCATS NCCAM NCI
NEI NHGRI NHLBI NIA NIAAA NIAID NIAMS
NIBIB NICHD NIDA NIDCD NIDCR NIDDK NIEHS
NIGMS NIMH NIMHD NINDS NINR NLM OD

 

ALT Guidance Documents

 

Information and Assistance

For additional information, search the NIH IT Knowledge Base for tutorials, instruction sheets and user guides or refer to the appropriate How-To Guide.

For questions or user support, please contact the NIH IT Service Desk.​​​​