Smart Card Alliance Paper Addresses Why Smart Cards Are Secure

Smart Card Alliance Paper Addresses Why Smart Cards Are Secure

PRINCETON JUNCTION, N.J., October 16, 2008–Smart card technology is becoming an important part of everyday life in the United States and throughout the Americas. Now the preferred technology for securing personal digital devices, it is used in electronic passports, contactless payment cards, transit fare cards, SIMs for cell phones, new ID cards issued to government and non-government employees–the list goes on and on. But are they really secure? The Smart Card Alliance addresses this question with a new report that explains what makes smart cards secure in a white paper released today.

What Makes a Smart Card Secure? was developed by the Smart Card Alliance Contactless and Mobile Payment Council’s Security Work Group to provide an overview of smart card security features and other security designs inherent in smart card-based systems. This free report is available on the Smart Card Alliance Web site.

“Smart card technology is an essential ingredient that brings a higher level of security to payment and identity systems worldwide,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. “Our newest report details how smart card technology uses secure integrated circuits as the core of the technology, and explains the unique security benefits this provides to personal secure devices such as cards, USB tokens, SIM modules or embedded chips. Readers will also learn how smart card technology and secure microcontrollers enable additional system-level security measures, and how these multiple layers work together to better protect the system and its information from unauthorized users.”

The white paper describes security considerations for organizations that are intending to deploy smart card technology for payment, security or identity applications. It answers the following questions:

  • Smart cards contain secure integrated circuits (IC). What is a secure IC, and what types of secure ICs are used in smart cards?
  • What security features are designed into secure memory ICs and secure microcontrollers that protect data and thwart attempted attacks?
  • What is the impact of contact and contactless interfaces on security?
  • What types of cryptographic technologies are implemented with smart cards and how are they used to protect information and transactions?
  • How do smart cards fit into overall system security? How is the financial industry using smart cards to improve the security of credit and debit payments?
  • What industry certifications and evaluations are available that organizations can use to gain confidence in the security implemented in various smart card products and in the interoperability of the technology among various component suppliers?

Smart Card Alliance Contactless and Mobile Payment Council members involved in the development of this report include Discover Financial Services, First Data Corporation, Giesecke & Devrient, IBM, IfD Consulting, Infineon Technologies, INSIDE Contactless, JCB International, NBS Technologies, NXP Semiconductors, Texas Instruments, Thales, Unisys, Venyon and ViVOtech.

About the Smart Card Alliance

The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology. Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit

About the Contactless and Mobile Payments Council

The Smart Card Alliance Contactless and Mobile Payments Council works to facilitate the adoption of contactless payment and mobile payment in the United States through education programs for consumers, merchants, issuers and mobile operators. The Council is made up of over 120 individuals from 48 organizations, bringing together payments industry leaders, merchants and technology providers.