A system and method for establishing secured communications pathways across an open unsecured network, without compromising the security of any parties to the communication, involves establishing secured gateways or firewalls between the Internet and any party which desires protection by 1.) using a smart card to distribute shared secret keys between a computer which serves as the above-mentioned firewall and a client node on the Internet; 2.) using the shared private keys to establish mutual authentication between the gateway and the smartcard; 3.) generating a session or temporary secret key for use in further communications between the gateway and the client node once communications have been established; and 4.) encrypting further communications using the session key.