Smartcards are credit card sized plastic cards which are
embedded with an electronic chip. This chip contains memory as well as a
The processor runs a tamper proof Operating system designed especially for
smartcards. The chip can not only store information but also process it. The
card data is transacted via a smartcard reader that is connected to a computer.
The data inside the chip can be accessed through the access control protocols
defined in the operating system. The memory size of the cards is typically of
the order of 4KB to 150 KB. Smartcards are being used in many applications
today such as healthcare, banking, ticketing etc. The processor inside the
smardcard can be 8-bit or 32 bit processor. The OS resides
in the ROM of the processor. In addition they also have cryptographic
processors. There is a well defined file system. With the file system, access
conditions, micro processor, ROM etc., a smartcard is just like a mini computer
embedded in a chip.
Based on card technologies the cards can be divided in three
types -- contact cards,contactless cards and dual interface or hybrid cards.The contact cards have contact pads to interact with the readers, the
contactless cards have antenna and the dual interface cards
have both. The processor inside the smardcard can be
8-bit or 32 bit processor. The OS resides in the ROM of the processor. In
addition they also have cryptographic processors. There is a well defined file
system. With the file system, access conditions, micro processor, ROM etc., a
smartcard is just like a mini computer embedded in a chip. Based on card
technologies the cards can be divided in three types -- contact cards,
cards and dual interface or hybrid cards. The
contact cards have contact pads to interact with the readers, the
contactless cards have antenna and the dual interface cards
India is taking a major initiative in the implementation of smartcards in various
applications. A standard by the name of SCOSTA has been defined
for the smartcards used in India.
IIT K along with NIC has worked to pen down the complete standards of Operating
systems for smartcards which has been termed SCOSTA. SCOSTA stands for Smart
Card Operating System for Transport Applications and is the operating system
specification for smart cards to be used as vehicle registration cards and
drivers license cards in
India. Since the standards were
initially developed for Transport application and hence the name, but otherwise
the specifications are generic and are being used in various applications.
SCOSTA specifications are compliant with some relevant ISO 7816 standards for smartcards.
As mentioned above, the electronic chip embedded in a smartcard is loaded with
an OS especially designed and implemented for smartcards.
Operating system must follow the specifications defined in ISO standards. For
smartcards to be used in India,the Operating system must be SCOSTA compliant. IIT K in collaboration with NIC
provided a definition to this SCOSTA standard and a reference implementation.
The SCOSTA standards have been recommended for all applications such as the
National ID program, driving licence, vehicle registration, e-passport, health insurance etc.
All Vehicle Registration and Drivers
License cards issued in India
will have to stick to this standard to ensure national interoperability. IIT
Kanpur has taken a lead in developing an operating system
for contact smartcards which is SCOSTA compliant. It is being used in vehicle
registration and driving license in many states all over the country.
Recently IIT K has developed operating system for contact less Smart cards
which is SCOSTA compliant and is being referred to as SCOSTA CL. It supports
many additional features such as - Secure Messaging, supports many protocols
for interacting with cards such as T=0, T=1 and T=CL. This operating system
works for contact, contact less and dual interface cards.
For the operating system for the contact less cards, it should be ensured
that the OS is compliant with the ISO standards and the ICAO standards (these
for machine readable data in an electronic passport). For the development of a
robust and bug free operating system, thorough testing is an essential
requirement. To facilitate and standardize the process of testing of operating
systems for smartcards which are SCOSTA compliant, a Smart Card Testing Tool (STTool) has been developed here at IIT Kanpur.
This tool is being extensively used by various groups which are working on the
development of the OS for smartcards in India. They are also being used by
the ministry to test the operating systems developed by various companies and
provide them with SCOSTA certification.
SCOSTA CL (the operating system for contactless cards developed at IIT Kanpur) will be used in
e-passports in India.An e-passport makes the document machine-readable making the passport not only
tamper-proof but also enabling quick processing at airports. An IC chip is
embedded in the back cover of the e-passport with built in biometric feature.
smartcard related projects are undergoing at IIT Kanpur under the guidance of Prof. Rajat Moona.
These are being sponsored by the ministry of India and also by corporate
sector. There are a number of clients who have signed MOUs
with IIT K regarding buying the Operating system for smartcards and also
developing various applications involving smartcards. Some specific readers for
smartcards are also being designed here. These will be stand alone units which
will not require a computer to connect to. Apart from this there are many
students involved in these projects. Smartcard initiatives being taken for the
IIT K campus are also worth mentioning.
students and employees here have a smartcard based ID card system. There is a
Master ID card which is used to create the ID cards for the students and
employees of IIT Kanpur. The dependents of employees
and students can also be issued ID cards under this system. This master card
writes cryptographic keys in the cards of the users which makes these cards
authentic and there is no way they can be duplicated. Each person is issued a
smartcard as ID card. This ID card is being used in different applications in
the campus such as : marking attendance of students
and employees, and creating memberships for the campus swimming pool. It is
also being used as an e-purse application by charging it with cash and then
using it for dispensing beverages. Presently work is going on the development
of Health cards, Metro rail ticketing and many other applications.